KYIV/LVIV, Ukraine, August 19: The UN chief and the Turkish and Ukrainian presidents discussed ways to end the war started by Russia and secure Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, which was bombarded on the front lines.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told reporters on Thursday after talks in Lviv, Ukraine, that he was gravely concerned about the circumstances at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant and called for the withdrawal of equipment and personnel military.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said he, Guterres and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy discussed using the recent positive atmosphere to revive peace talks with Russia that took place in Istanbul in March.
In a UN-brokered deal with Turkey, Russia and Ukraine reached an agreement in July for Moscow to lift the blockade of Ukrainian grain shipments, and exports resumed in early August.
NATO member Turkey has good relations with Russia, an important trading partner, and has sought to mediate in the conflict, which began six months ago when Russian forces invaded Ukraine. neighbor.
“Personally, I maintain my belief that the war will eventually end at the negotiating table. Mr. Zelenskiy and Mr. Guterres have the same opinion in this regard,” Erdogan said.
There was no immediate comment from Moscow.
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Meanwhile, 17 people have been killed and 42 injured in two separate Russian attacks on the major city of Kharkiv in northeastern Ukraine, the regional governor said on Thursday.
Three civilians were killed and 17 injured in a rocket attack before dawn on Thursday, the local emergency service said. This followed a Russian attack on Kharkiv on Wednesday in which emergency services initially said 12 people were killed.
Also on Thursday, at least four explosions hit near a major Russian military airport on the Moscow-controlled Crimean Peninsula, three local sources said. Ukraine has hinted that it has orchestrated other explosions in the past 10 days at other Russian facilities in Crimea, which Moscow annexed in 2014.
Sources said Thursday’s explosions occurred near Russia’s Belbek military airport, north of the Black Sea Fleet headquarters in Sevastopol.
Sevastopol Governor Mikhail Razvozhayev, writing on Telegram, said that Russian anti-aircraft forces shot down a Ukrainian drone and no damage was caused.
Ukraine’s Armed Forces General Staff said in a statement on Friday that Russian forces launched attacks and attempted to advance on three or more fronts during the day and that Ukrainian forces repelled them.
In the south, 73 Russian soldiers were killed and 13 pieces of equipment and ammunition depots were destroyed as Ukrainian forces sought to take control of new territory, the regional command posted on Facebook.
“During the ensuing battle, (our) units fired on the enemy, who, as a result, were forced to return to their original position with losses of tanks, armored vehicles and personnel. “
Reuters could not immediately verse the battlefield accounts.
NUCLEAR DISASTER FEARS
Moscow says its goal in Ukraine is to demilitarize the country and protect Russian speakers on land that Russian President Vladimir Putin says historically belongs to Russia.
Ukraine and the West call this an unprovoked war of conquest. Ukraine got rid of Russian rule when the Soviet Union broke up in 1991.
António Guterres reiterated his calls for demilitarization around the nuclear power plant.
“The installation must not be used in the context of a military operation. Instead, an agreement is urgently needed to restore the purely civilian infrastructure of Zaporizhzhia and to ensure the security of the area,” said António Guterres.
Russia, which seized the plant in southern Ukraine shortly after the February 24 invasion, said it could shut it down – a move Kyiv says would increase the risk of a nuclear disaster .
Moscow had previously dismissed as “unacceptable” international calls for a demilitarized zone. Ukrainian engineers still operate the plant despite the Russian occupation.
The power station is on the Russian-controlled south bank of a huge reservoir at Enerhodar; Ukrainian forces hold the northern shore. Both sides blamed the other for bombing the factory.
Ukraine also accuses Russia of using the plant as a shield for its forces to launch through-tank strikes on Ukrainian-held towns, which Moscow denies.
Reuters cannot independently confirm the military situation in the region or responsibility for the bombings.
Zelenskiy said after meeting António Guterres they had agreed on parameters for a possible mission to the plant by the UN’s nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency. .
“Russia should immediately and unconditionally withdraw its forces from the territory of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, as well as cease all provocations and bombardments,” Zelenskiy said.