The United States claimed that Russia was stationing troops near Ukraine’s largest nuclear power plant and using it as a “nuclear shield” to prevent Ukrainian forces from firing back and endangering a catastrophic nuclear explosion.
The Zaporizhzhia plant, which Russia was accused of launching shells dangerously close to in March, is now a Russian military facility that is used to fire on neighboring Ukrainian soldiers, according to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
After Monday’s nuclear non-proliferation negotiations at the United Nations in New York, Blinken told reporters, “Of course, the Ukrainians cannot fire back lest there be a terrible disaster involving the nuclear plant.”
Blinken referred to Russia’s efforts as a “nuclear shield,” saying they went beyond employing a “human shield.”
Mykola Tochytskyi, Ukraine’s deputy foreign affairs minister, urged the international community to install air defence systems over the country’s nuclear power reactors during the New York discussions, saying that “strong collective steps are needed to prevent nuclear calamity.”
The invasion of Ukraine by Russian President Vladimir Putin on February 24 set off the deadliest conflict in Europe since World War Two, which has left millions of people displaced and significant portions of Ukraine in ruins.
With Russia and Ukraine producing roughly a third of the world’s wheat, the war has also contributed to a global food crisis. Additionally, Western sanctions against Russia, a significant energy supplier to Europe, have contributed to a global energy crisis.
GRAINS SHIPS FIRST
Following a safe passage agreement, the first ship to transport Ukrainian grain over the Black Sea since Russia invaded Ukraine five months ago sailed from Odesa on Monday for Lebanon.
The sailing was made possible because to an agreement between Russia and Ukraine to transport grains and fertiliser that was mediated by Turkey and the UN last month. This was a rare diplomatic success in a conflict that has devolved into a protracted battle of attrition.
After passing through Turkey’s Bosphorus Strait, which connects the Mediterranean to the Black Sea and is dominated by Russia’s navy, the ship Razoni, which is registered in Sierra Leone, will proceed to the port of Tripoli in Lebanon. 26,527 tonnes of maize are onboard.
However, there are still challenges to be resolved before millions of tonnes of Ukrainian grain leave its Black Sea ports. For example, sea mines must be cleared, and a framework must be put in place for ships to reach the conflict zone and pick up cargo in a secure manner.
The war in Ukraine has raised the possibility of numerous famines this year, according to the United Nations.