Ukraine war latest: Putin orders Russian nuclear plant takeover in Ukraine as his military struggles in newly annexed country
president Vladimir Putin has ordered Russian nuclear power company Rosenergoatom to take control of Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, in Ukraine’s south, as his military struggles to control annexed territory.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian law enforcement officials reported discovery more evidence of torture and killings in areas retaken from Russian forces.
Here is the latest on the war in Ukraine.
Putin asserts control over Zaporizhzhia plant
Vladimir Putin has ordered a takeover of Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant (ZNPP), as the UN nuclear watchdog warned that power supply to the site was “extremely fragile”.
Russia captured the facility in March shortly after invading Ukraine, but Ukrainian staff have continued to operate it.
Last weekend, Russia detained the plant’s Ukrainian director. He was released but will not return to work.
On Wednesday the head of Ukraine’s state nuclear energy company Energoatom, Petro Kotin, said he would take direct control of the plant, and urged workers not to sign any documents with its Russian occupiers.
“We will continue to work under Ukrainian law, within the Ukrainian energy system, within Energoatom,” he added.
The plant is located in the southern Ukrainian region also called Zaporizhzhia, one of four regions that Mr Putin formally incorporated into Russia last weekin a move condemned by Kyiv and the West as an illegal land grab.
“The Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant is now on the territory of the Russian Federation and, accordingly, should be operated under the supervision of our relevant agencies,” Russia’s RIA news agency quoted Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Vershinin as saying.
Mr. Putin later signed a decree that designated the ZNPP “federal property”.
Russian nuclear power operator Rosenergoatom said it would conduct an assessment of how to repair damage and transfer all existing Ukrainian employees to a new Russian-owned organization.
“The new operating organization is designed to ensure the safe operation of the nuclear power plant and the professional activities of the existing plant personnel,” it said in a statement.
Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, said Mr Putin’s “attempted legal raid” demanded an immediate response. Writing on Twitter, he called for sanctions against another Russian state-owned nuclear power supplier, Rosatom.
He also demanded a halt to all construction of nuclear facilities with Rosatom and the rejection of any nuclear partnerships with Russia.
Here’s what else is going on
The latest in pictures
Yuri Shapovalov has been bringing goods back and forth and helping locals cross the Siverskyi-Donets river in the village of Staryi Saltiv for months.
A bridge, which served as the main link that connected one part of the village with the other and onto the regional capital of Kharkiv, was destroyed in March.
The village of Staryi Saltiv was under Russian control for two months, and after it was recaptured by Ukrainian forces in May, was a regular target of shelling until September, according to the people who live there.
About 700 people remain in the part of the village on the river’s eastern side, with volunteers using a boat to deliver them food and other supplies.
In the Donetsk region, Ukrainian forces recaptured the town of Lyman.
Ukraine officials said many recaptured areas were heavily damaged and mined.
President Zelenskyy said in a late-night video address that Ukrainian forces took back three more settlements in the southern Kherson region on Wednesday.
Russian TV anchor flees house arrest
To form Russian state television journalist, who quit after staging an on-air protest against the conflict in Ukraine and was later charged with spreading false information about Russia’s armed forces, says she is no longer abiding by house arrest rules.
Marina Ovsyannikova was separately charged in August for taking part in a street protest and holding a banner reading: “Putin is a killer, his soldiers are fascists. 352 children have been killed (in Ukraine). How many more children should die for you to stop? “
A former state-controlled Channel One employee, Ms Ovsyannikova faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted under a law that penalizes statements against the military which was enacted shortly after Russian troops moved into Ukraine.
Ms Ovsyannikova was placed under house arrest pending an investigation and trial, but over the weekend her ex-husband claimed she had escaped with her young daughter.
In a Facebook post on Wednesday, Ms Ovsyannikova said that “starting from September 30, I refuse to abide by the restrictions imposed on me in the form of house arrest and release myself from it.”
Torture chamber discovered in Pisky-Radkivski
In the eastern Kharkiv region, more disturbing images emerged from areas recently reclaimed from Russia.
Serhiy Bolvinov, who heads the investigative department of the national police in the region, said authorities were investigating an alleged Russian torture chamber in the village of Pisky-Radkivski.
I posted an image of a box of what appeared to be precious metal teeth and dentures presumably extracted from those held at the site. The authenticity of the photo could not be confirmed.
Ukraine’s general prosecutor also spoke of new evidence of torture and killings found in the Kharkiv region.
Speaking on the sidelines of a Warsaw security conference, Andriy Kostin said he had just been notified of four bodies found with signs of possible torture.
Two bodies were found in a factory in Kupyansk with their hands bound behind their backs, while two other bodies were found inside Novoplatonivkatheir hands linked by handcuffs.
During his public speech, Mr. Kostin said officials found the bodies of 24 civilians, including 13 children and one pregnant woman, who had been killed in six cars near Kupiansk. It was not clear when the discovery was made.