The fighting in Ukraine and related disputes over pipelines lie behind the electricity and natural gas shortfalls that have worsened as Russia's war in Ukraine, which began on Feb. 24, grinds on for a seventh month.
Energy problems plagued Ukraine and Europe as much of the Russian-occupied region that’s home to a largely crippled nuclear power plant was reported temporarily in blackout Sunday.
Only one of six reactors at the Zaporizhzhia facility was connected to the electricity grid, and Russia’s main pipeline carrying natural gas to Germany remained shut down, AP reports.
The fighting in Ukraine and related disputes over pipelines lie behind the electricity and natural gas shortfalls that have worsened as Russia’s war in Ukraine, which began on Feb. 24, grinds on for a seventh month.
Both issues will take center stage this week. U.N. nuclear agency inspectors are scheduled to brief the Security Council on Tuesday about their inspection and safeguard visit to the Zaporizhzhia power plant. European Union energy ministers were slated to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to discuss the bloc’s electricity market, which European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has said “is no longer operating.”
Much of the Zaporizhzhia region, including the key city of Melitopol, lost power Sunday.
But it was later restored, said Vladimir Rogov, the head of the Russia-installed local administration in Enerhodar, the city where the nuclear power plant is located. To the southwest, power was also out in several parts of the port city of Kherson, according to Russia’s Tass news agency.
While Rogov said no new shelling of the area around the six-reactor Zaporizhzhia plant was reported Sunday, the effects of earlier strikes lingered.
The International Atomic Energy Agency said Saturday that the plant was disconnected from its last main external power line and one reactor was disconnected because of grid restrictions. Another reactor was still operating and producing electricity for cooling and other essential safety functions at the site, as well as externally for households, factories and others through a reserve power line, the IAEA said.
Russian forces have held the Zaporizhzhia facility, Europe’s largest nuclear plant, since early March, with its Ukrainian staff continuing to operate it.
IAEA Director-General Rafael Grossi said he will brief the U.N. Security Council on Tuesday on a mission he led to the plant last week. The 14-member delegation braved gunfire and artillery blasts to reach the plant last Thursday after months of negotiations to enable passage through the fighting’s front lines.
Without blaming either warring side, Grossi said his big concerns are the plant’s physical integrity, its power supply and the staff’s condition.
Europe’s energy picture remained clouded by the war in Ukraine.
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