Live Updates: IAEA Chief in Talks on Ukrainian Nuclear Sites | national
BERLIN — The head of the UN nuclear agency said he was on his way to Turkey for talks on ensuring the safety of Ukraine’s nuclear facilities.
Rafael Grossi, Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency, was invited to Antalya, Turkey by Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu. Also in Antalya on Thursday, the Russian and Ukrainian foreign ministers are to meet on the sidelines of a diplomatic forum.
Grossi did not give details of his own scheduled meetings in a tweet that showed him sitting on a plane.
The head of the IAEA has pushed for an agreement with Ukraine and Russia on the safety of Ukrainian nuclear power plants.
A growing list of concerns includes a power outage at the decommissioned Chernobyl power plant as well as limited communications between Ukraine’s nuclear regulator and Chernobyl and the Zaporizhzhia power plant, which Russian forces seized last week.
In addition, the IAEA claims to have lost direct data transmission from the systems installed to monitor nuclear materials at both Chernobyl and Zaporizhzhia. He says the reasons for the disruption are not immediately clear.
Ukraine has 15 nuclear reactors, eight of which were operating on Wednesday.
STOCKHOLM — Sweden’s government said on Thursday it was suggesting the country, which is not a NATO member, should increase military spending to 2% of gross domestic product by 2025.
“Between 2014 and 2025, defense spending will have increased by 85%,” said Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson. “Sweden’s defense capability needs to be significantly strengthened.”
The move follows Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which profoundly changed Europe’s security outlook, including for Nordic neutrals Finland and Sweden, where support for membership at NATO has reached record levels.
The Social Democrat-led government’s proposal is likely to win the support of the Riksdag, which has 349 seats.
Andersson said “more young people need to prepare long-term for military service and contribute to military defence.”
In 2017, Sweden instituted military conscription for both men and women due to the deteriorating security environment in Europe and around Sweden. Seven years earlier, Sweden had abolished compulsory military service for men because there were enough volunteers to meet its military needs. There has never been military conscription for women.
On Sunday, neighboring Scandinavian NATO member Denmark said it would also increase military spending to meet the NATO target of 2% of gross domestic product by 2033.
The 27-member Western military alliance aims for its members to spend 2% of their gross domestic product on defence.
ANTALYA, Turkey — Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said a meeting between Russian and Ukrainian foreign ministers in Turkey on Thursday aims to pave the way for a meeting between the leaders of the two countries.
Sergei Lavrov of Russia and Dmotry Kuleba of Ukraine are due to hold talks on the sidelines of a diplomatic forum near the Turkish Mediterranean city of Antalya. It would be the first high-level meeting between Moscow and Kyiv since the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Cavusoglu said he would also attend the meeting.
“Our main goal is to bring the three leaders together,” Turkish newspaper Hurriyet said, citing Cavusoglu, referring to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
NATO member Turkey, which has cultivated close ties with Russia and Ukraine, is trying to balance relations with the two nations. It positioned itself as a neutral party, seeking to facilitate negotiations between the belligerents.
WASHINGTON — The U.S. House of Representatives has overwhelmingly approved legislation banning imports of Russian oil into the United States, an effort to materialize restrictions announced by President Joe Biden in response to the escalating war in Ukraine.
Going further than Biden’s ban on Russian oil imports, the bill making its way through Congress would also encourage a review of Russia’s status in the World Trade Organization and signal US support for sanctions. against Russian officials for human rights violations, as the United States seeks to isolate the regime.
Lawmakers from both parties have been eager to act, willing to risk higher gas prices at home in order to prop up Ukraine with a show of American bipartisanship. The legislation was approved Wednesday, 414-17, and now goes to the Senate.
Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Texas, who helped draft the bill, acknowledged that it could cost more to fill tanks at home to stop Russian President Vladimir Putin’s tanks abroad.
“It’s a way of showing our solidarity,” Doggett said during the debate.
TOKYO — Japanese electronics and entertainment giant Sony is suspending all shipments of its PlayStation video game consoles and game software to Russia due to the war in Ukraine.
The launch of “Gran Turismo 7”, a popular racing car game, is on hold and the PlayStation Store in Russia will close, Sony Interactive Entertainment said in a statement Thursday.
The company “joins the global community in calling for peace in Ukraine,” she said.
Sony, which owns film and music companies, said earlier it had halted theatrical releases of its films in Russia. Sony Group Corp. also announced $2 million in humanitarian aid to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the international aid group Save the Children to help victims of war.
TOKYO — Japanese machinery and technology company Hitachi Group is suspending exports to Russia and has temporarily halted manufacturing there.
Hitachi said on Thursday that products and services related to electrical equipment “indispensable to people’s daily lives” would continue. Operations in Ukraine have resumed moving employees and families to safer areas, he said.
“The Hitachi Group considers the safety and health of all its employees and their families to be its top priority. In Ukraine, society is engaged in various activities to achieve this goal and hopes that peace will return as soon as possible,” he said.
IRPIN, Ukraine – Hundreds of Ukrainians living in towns occupied by Russian troops on the outskirts of Kiev fled on Wednesday.
Streams of cars – some affixed with white flags – paraded down the road, joined by lines of yellow buses marked with red crosses.
The Interior Ministry said around 700 people had been evacuated from Vorzel and Irpin. Residents of three other Kyiv suburbs were unable to leave. Some who made it out said they hadn’t eaten in days.
“I forgot when I last ate,” said an Irpin resident who only gave her first name, Olena. “I’m so scared. I have to keep walking.
Iuliia Bushinska, a resident of Vorzel, said: “The occupiers came to our house and they were ready to shoot us.”
“They took our house, our car, they took our papers. So we have to start our life over from the beginning. We survived things that I never experienced in my life,” Bushinska said.
WASHINGTON — The U.S. government has publicly warned that Russia may seek to use chemical or biological weapons in Ukraine, after Russia, without evidence, accused Ukraine of having chemical weapons labs.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki called Russia’s claim “absurd” and said it could be part of a Russian attempt to lay the groundwork for the use of such weapons of mass destruction against Ukraine itself.
“All of this is an obvious ploy by Russia to try to justify its new premeditated, unprovoked and unjustified attack on Ukraine,” Psaki said.
“Now that Russia has made these false claims and China has apparently endorsed this propaganda, we should all be on the lookout for Russia possibly using chemical or biological weapons in Ukraine, or creating a false flag operation in them. using.”
Russia has previously used chemical weapons to carry out assassination attempts against Putin’s enemies like Alexey Navalny and former spy Sergei Skripal. He also supports the Assad government in Syria which has used chemical weapons against its people during a decade of civil war.
LVIV, Ukraine — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has called on the West to impose even tougher sanctions on Russia after the airstrike on the Mariupol maternity hospital.
“A genocide of Ukrainians is underway,” Zelenskyy said Wednesday in his daily late-night video address to the nation. Dressed in his now traditional wartime military green, he said the West should step up sanctions so that Russia “would have no further opportunity to continue this genocide”.
He said 17 people were injured in the attack, including pregnant women.
Mariupol has been blocked by Russian troops for nine days. City officials said Wednesday that about 1,200 residents had been killed.
Zelenskyy again called on Western leaders to impose a no-fly zone over Ukraine, which NATO members refused to do for fear of provoking a wider war with Russia. Apart from that, Zelenskyy has called for more fighter jets to be delivered to Ukraine, a proposal the Pentagon rejected on Wednesday.
Zelenskyy said around 35,000 civilians used the humanitarian corridors to flee to western Ukraine to escape the fighting.
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