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More Ukrainian grains set sail as new strike hits nuclear site

Four more grain-laden ships left Ukrainian ports on Sunday as Moscow and Kyiv accused each other of another strike at a Russian-occupied nuclear power plant. “The second convoy of Ukrainian supplies has just left (…) three from Chornomorsk and one from Odessa,” Kyiv’s infrastructure ministry wrote on Telegram. He said the Mustafa Necati, Star Helena, Glory and Riva Wind were carrying “about 170,000 tonnes of agriculture-related cargo”. Meanwhile, Moscow and Kyiv have traded accusations over who bombed the Zaporizhzhia nuclear site in southern Ukraine, Europe’s largest atomic power complex that has been under Russian control since the early days of the February 24 invasion. Recent fighting at the plant has prompted the UN’s nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), to warn of “the very real risk of nuclear catastrophe”. On Sunday, Russian occupation authorities in the town of Enerhodar, where the plane is located, said the Ukrainian army “carried out a strike in the night with a cluster bomb fired from an Uragan multiple rocket launcher”. . The projectiles fell “within 400 meters of an operating reactor”, Russian news agency TASS reported. The strike damaged some administrative buildings and fell into a “spent nuclear fuel storage area”. However, the Ukrainian nuclear energy company Enerhoatom, which operates the plant, said that “the Russian occupiers again fired rockets at the site of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant and at the town of Enerhodar”. “An…employee was hospitalized with shrapnel from the explosion,” it said in a statement. AFP was unable to confirm the allegations from an independent source. On Saturday, Enerhoatom had already said that parts of the facility had been “severely damaged” by military strikes the previous day and that one of its reactors had been forced to shut down. The prospect of the giant complex being badly damaged in the fighting has raised alarm. “Any military firepower directed to or from the facility would be tantamount to playing with fire, with potentially catastrophic consequences,” IAEA Rafael Grossi said on Saturday. – ‘Sign of hope’ – The resumption of grain shipments from Ukraine to help ease global food shortages and lower prices nonetheless offers a small glimmer of hope as the war enters its sixth month. Ukraine, one of the world’s largest grain exporters, was forced to halt almost all deliveries following the Russian invasion, sending global food prices skyrocketing and making imports of prohibitively expensive for some of the world’s poorest countries. On Sunday in Rome, Pope Francis hailed the resumption of grain exports as “a sign of hope” which showed that dialogue was possible to end the war. “I sincerely hope that by following this path, we can end the fighting and achieve a just and lasting peace.” A bulk carrier had arrived in Chornomorsk on Saturday to be loaded with grain for the first time since the invasion of Moscow. Last Monday, the Sierra Leone-flagged vessel Razoni left the Ukrainian port of Odessa with 26,000 tonnes of maize in the first departure under the deal brokered with the help of Turkey. Then on Friday, Kyiv said three more ships laden with grain also left for Turkey and markets in Ireland and Britain and another 13 were waiting to depart. bur-spm/bp/yad

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