Russia-Ukraine war: Liz Truss pledges ‘full backing’ to Ukraine; UN finds extensive damage to nuclear plant – live | Ukraine

Liz Truss pledges ‘full backing’ to Ukraine

Britain’s new prime minister Liz Truss spoke with her Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelenskiy to pledge her “full backing” for Ukraine during a call on Tuesday.

Truss reiterated the United Kingdom’s “steadfast support” for Ukraine’s freedom and democracy, a statement released by Downing Street read.

In her first call with a counterpart since becoming prime minister, she reiterated to the Ukrainian leader that he had her full backing, and Ukraine could depend on the UK’s assistance for the long term.

The leaders discussed the need to strengthen global security and the measures necessary to cut off the funds fuelling Putin’s war machine.

The leaders deplored Putin’s attempts to weaponise energy, and the prime minister said it was vital Russia’s blackmail did not deter the west from ensuring Putin fails. She also underscored the importance of ensuring the UK and our allies continue to build energy independence.”

Zelenskiy said he congratulated Truss on the appointment to her new role, saying he felt that the leaders “will be able to build a profound and productive relationship”.

He added that he extended an invite to the new British prime minister to visit Ukraine.

Key events

Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, has said the west’s sanctions on the country were short-sighted and a danger for the entire world, which he said was increasingly turning towards Asia.

In a speech to the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok, Putin said the west had undermined the global economy with an “aggressive” attempt to impose its dominance across the world.

He added that Russia had done everything it could to ensure Ukraine was able to export grain, but that problems in the global food market were likely to intensify and that a humanitarian catastrophe was looming.

Britain’s new prime minister Liz Truss and her US counterpart Joe Biden have promised to strengthen their relationship in the face of Vladimir Putin’s aggression.

Truss’s call to Biden on Tuesday night followed a conversation with Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelenskiy, and focused on what she called ”extreme economic problems caused by Putin’s war”.

Biden and Truss “reinforced their commitment to strengthening global liberty, tackling the risks posed by autocracies and ensuring Putin fails in Ukraine”, according to Downing Street.

No 10 noted the “enduring strength of the special relationship” with the US, something that appeared at times strained during the reign of her predecessor, Boris Johnson.

The leaders also committed to deepening alliances through Nato and the Aukus defence pact, established to counter China’s dominance in the Indo-Pacific region.

I became the 1st foreign leader to have a conversation with the newly elected 🇬🇧 PM @trussliz. Invited her to 🇺🇦. Thanked 🇬🇧 people for the major defense & economic aid for 🇺🇦. It’s important that 🇬🇧 is ready to further strengthen it. Attention was paid to security guarantees 1/2

— Володимир Зеленський (@ZelenskyyUa) September 6, 2022

The White House said the leaders discussed close cooperation to help Ukraine “defend itself against Russian aggression”, as well as the challenges posed by China, Iran’s ambitions to acquire nuclear weapons, securing sustainable and affordable energy and the need to protect the Good Friday agreement.

Truss’s first call to a foreign leader was to Zelenskiy. The prime minister, who is the UK’s fourth Conservative prime minister in six years, told him “Ukraine could depend on the UK’s assistance for the long term” and deplored Putin’s attempts to weaponise energy. Accepting an invitation to visit Ukraine soon, the new prime minister said it was “vital Russia’s blackmail did not deter the west from ensuring Putin fails”, according to Downing Street.

Honoured to be the object of Truss’s first call, Zelenskiy hailed what he said would be a “profound and productive relationship” with the new leader, with whom he discussed how to increase the pressure on Russia and raise the costs of its invasion.

“It is very important that Great Britain retains a leadership role in consolidating the free world and protecting freedom,” he said.

Russian colonel killed in car bomb attack – reports

A Russian colonel who served as the military commandant of the occupied Ukrainian city of Berdiansk was reported to have been killed in a car bombing, according to Russian state media reports.

The car bomb reportedly exploded near the city administrative headquarters, which is being used as a Russian base.

Photographs showed that the car used by the Russian military official, who has been identified as Col Artyom Bardin, was severely damaged in the attack, which took place close to midday.

Initial reports indicated that Bardin died from his wounds. But Vladimir Rogov, the Russian-appointed administrative head of the Zaporizhzhia region, said in a Telegram post written just after 8.30pm on Tuesday that the colonel continued to “fight for his life”.

Thank God, information about the death of the commandant of Berdyansk Artyom Bardin is not confirmed. Despite severe injuries, explosive leg amputation and massive blood loss, he is alive. Doctors continue to fight for his life,” he said.

Russian officials have alleged that Ukraine was behind the attack. If true, it would be the most significant assassination yet of an official working for the occupational government of Russia in Ukraine.

Ukraine has claimed to have destroyed a key strategic bridge used by Russian forces in Kherson.

Ukraine’s armed forces shared a series of satellite images purporting to show the damaged structure on Tuesday night.

“Photo of the destroyed pontoon bridge near Darivka in the Kherson Region,” the force said in a Telegram update. “The Rashists [Russians] used it to cross the Ingulets River.”

The military added that the images show “significant damage to the Daryiv bridge itself” as well as damage to a building near the river.

“Approximately 250 meters from the crossing, the satellite also recorded a cluster of Russian military equipment and a large number of trenches,” the force added.

Moscow has sent a request to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) requesting “additional explanations” on some areas in their report following a visit to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.

Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said the request had been made on Wednesday, according to Russian media outlets.

Other Russian officials have criticised the agency for not identifying Ukraine as the perpetrator of attacks on the plant.

A “parallel” counteroffensive is occurring in eastern and north-eastern Ukraine as well as in the south, a senior presidential adviser has claimed.

Oleksiy Arestovych said on Telegram late on Tuesday night:

We are advancing and pressing almost along the entire frontline.

In the coming months, we can expect the defeat of the Russian army in the Kherson region on the western bank of the Dnieper and a significant advance of the Armed Forces of Ukraine in the east.”

Ukrainian forces have attacked the Russian-occupied eastern town of Balakliia in the Kharkiv region, a senior Russian-appointed official has said.

The town of 27,000 people lies between Kharkiv and Russian-held Izyum, a city with a major railway hub used by Moscow to supply its forces.

Today, the Ukrainian armed forces, after prolonged artillery preparation … began an attack on Balakliia,” Russian official with the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic Daniil Bezsonov said on Telegram on Tuesday, according to a Reuters report.

Bezsonov added that if the town were lost, Russian forces in Izyum would become vulnerable on their northwest flank.

The Ukrainian armed forces concentrated mass fire on the mobile groups of the Donetsk People’s Republic, which had taken up defensive positions in nearby forests.

At this time, Balakliia is in operative encirclement and within the firing range of Ukrainian artillery. All approaches are cut off by fire.”

Luhansk region governor Serhiy Gaidai told Ukrainian television, without giving locations, that a “counter-attack is under way and … our forces are enjoying some success. Let’s leave it at that”.

Liz Truss pledges ‘full backing’ to Ukraine

Britain’s new prime minister Liz Truss spoke with her Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelenskiy to pledge her “full backing” for Ukraine during a call on Tuesday.

Truss reiterated the United Kingdom’s “steadfast support” for Ukraine’s freedom and democracy, a statement released by Downing Street read.

In her first call with a counterpart since becoming prime minister, she reiterated to the Ukrainian leader that he had her full backing, and Ukraine could depend on the UK’s assistance for the long term.

The leaders discussed the need to strengthen global security and the measures necessary to cut off the funds fuelling Putin’s war machine.

The leaders deplored Putin’s attempts to weaponise energy, and the prime minister said it was vital Russia’s blackmail did not deter the west from ensuring Putin fails. She also underscored the importance of ensuring the UK and our allies continue to build energy independence.”

Zelenskiy said he congratulated Truss on the appointment to her new role, saying he felt that the leaders “will be able to build a profound and productive relationship”.

He added that he extended an invite to the new British prime minister to visit Ukraine.

UN calls for demilitarised zone around nuclear plant

The UN has called for a demilitarised zone around Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant.

Secretary general António Guterres urged for the withdrawal of Russian occupying troops and the agreement of Ukrainian forces not to move in.

An agreement on a demilitarised perimeter should be secured,” he said.

Specifically, that will include the commitment by Russian forces to withdraw military personnel and equipment from that perimeter and the commitment by Ukrainian forces not to move in.”

Russia’s UN ambassador Vassily Nebenzia told reporters ahead of the council meeting, “if we demilitarise then the Ukrainians will immediately step in and ruin the whole thing.”

UN calls for demilitarised zone around nuclear plant
UN calls for demilitarised zone around nuclear plant

UN finds extensive damage around Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant

The UN nuclear watchdog has said its experts found extensive damage at Russian-held Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant in a report presented to the UN security council on Tuesday.

Director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Rafael Grossi, said his team closely witnessed shelling in the vicinity of the power plant and confirmed the presence of Russian soldiers and military equipment.

The report also found Ukrainian staff were operating under constant high stress and pressure where there was an increased possibility of human error.

The IAEA said it was “gravely concerned” about the “unprecedented” situation at the plant, which is controlled by Russian forces but operated by Ukrainian technicians, and urged interim measures to prevent a nuclear disaster.

Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant
Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant

Ukrainian staff were operating under constant high stress and pressure, especially with the limited staff available, the report said. “This is not sustainable and could lead to increased human error with implications for nuclear safety,” it added.

While the ongoing shelling has not yet triggered a nuclear emergency, it continues to represent a constant threat to nuclear safety and security with potential impact on critical safety functions that may lead to radiological consequences with great safety significance,” the inspectors wrote.

Areas damaged by shelling included a turbine lubrication oil tank and the roofs of various buildings such as one housing a spent fuel transporter vehicle.

“We are playing with fire and something very, very catastrophic could take place,” Grossi said.

Summary and welcome

Hello and welcome back to the Guardian’s live coverage of the war in Ukraine.

I’m Samantha Lock and I will be bringing you all the latest developments for the next short while. Whether you’ve been following our coverage overnight or you’ve just dropped in, here are the latest lines.

An expert mission from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has released its findings from the Russian-held Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant in a detailed report.

It is 7.30am in Kyiv. Here is where things stand:

  • The UN has called for a demilitarised zone around Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant. Secretary general António Guterres urged for the withdrawal of Russian occupying troops and the agreement of Ukrainian forces not to move in. “An agreement on a demilitarised perimeter should be secured,” he said. “Specifically, that will include the commitment by Russian forces to withdraw military personnel and equipment from that perimeter and the commitment by Ukrainian forces not to move in.” Russia’s UN ambassador Vassily Nebenzia told reporters ahead of the council meeting, “if we demilitarise then the Ukrainians will immediately step in and ruin the whole thing.”

  • Biden and newly appointed British prime minister, Liz Truss, have vowed to partner against Russia and show their “continued support for Ukraine as it defends itself against Russian aggression” after speaking by phone on Tuesday. A Downing Street spokesperson said Truss reiterated to the Ukrainian leader that he had her full backing, and Ukraine could depend on the UK’s assistance for the long term,” while Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelenskiy said he felt the two leaders “will be able to build a profound and productive relationship”.

  • The UN nuclear watchdog said its experts found extensive damage at the plant in a report presented to the UN security council on Tuesday. Director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Rafael Grossi, said his team closely witnessed shelling in the vicinity of the power plant and confirmed the presence of Russian soldiers and military equipment. The report also found Ukrainian staff were operating under constant high stress and pressure where there was an increased possibility of human error. “We are playing with fire and something very, very catastrophic could take place,” Grossi said.

  • A “parallel” counteroffensive is occurring in eastern and northeastern Ukraine as well as in the south, a senior presidential adviser has claimed. “We are advancing and pressing almost along the entire frontline,” Oleksiy Arestovych said on Telegram late on Tuesday night. “In the coming months, we can expect the defeat of the Russian army in the Kherson region on the western bank of the Dnieper and a significant advance of the Armed Forces of Ukraine in the east.”

  • Ukraine’s major western allies have yet to sign up to establish a tribunal to try Russian president Vladimir Putin and his inner circle for the crime of aggression, wanting to leave space for future relations with Russia, according to Ukraine’s top officials. “It’s big politics. On the one hand, countries publicly condemn the aggression but on the other, they are putting their foot in the closing door on relations with Russia so that it doesn’t close completely,” said Andriy Smyrnov, deputy head of Ukraine’s presidential administration. “They are attempting to keep some space for diplomatic manoeuvres … agreements with Russia are not worth the paper they are written on.”

  • US president Joe Biden’s administration has rejected calls from Ukraine to brand Russia a “state sponsor of terrorism,” saying it would have “unintended consequences” to Ukraine and the world. White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said the designation would hamper aid delivery to Ukraine or prevent aid groups and companies from participating in a deal brokered by the UN and Turkey to ship grain from Ukraine’s blockaded ports.

A man walks by a street market destroyed by military strikes in the residential area of Saltivka in Kharkiv, Ukraine.
A man walks by a street market destroyed by military strikes in the residential area of Saltivka in Kharkiv, Ukraine. Photograph: Viacheslav Ratynskyi/Reuters

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