At the same time, Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan met in Sochi, in southwestern Russia, on the shores of the Black Sea, where they decided to “strengthen trade exchanges ” between their countries and to “go to meet mutual expectations in the field of economy and energy”, according to the Kremlin.
Mr. Putin also thanked Mr. Erdogan for his efforts which made it possible to find an agreement in Istanbul between Moscow and Ukraine on grain deliveries from Ukrainian ports.
For its part, the NGO Amnesty International persisted in accusing the Ukrainian army of endangering the lives of civilians in the war with Russia, while a new Russian strike on Mykolaiv, in southern Ukraine, injured 22, local authorities said.
Strikes at the site of a nuclear power plant
The situation was confused Friday evening concerning the situation at the Zaporijjia power plant, under Russian occupation since the beginning of March, kyiv and Moscow rejecting responsibility for strikes on the site.
“Today, the occupiers have created another extremely risky situation for all of Europe: they have twice struck the nuclear power plant in Zaporizhia. Any bombardment of this site is a shameless crime, an act of terror”, hammered President Volodymyr Zelensky in his daily video message.
“Despite the provocations of the Russians, the plant continues to operate and supply electricity to the energy system of Ukraine through lines in operation. In accordance with their capacity, it was decided to unload and disconnect one reactors,” said Ukrainian state-owned company Energoatom.
However, “there are risks of hydrogen leakage and spraying of radioactive substances. The danger of fire is high,” she warned.
The Russian army, for its part, spoke in a statement of “artillery fire” from “Ukrainian armed formations”, both “against the territory of the Zaporizhia power plant and the city of Energodar”, and denounced ” acts of nuclear terrorism”.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said on Tuesday that the situation was “volatile” and “more and more dangerous day by day” at the Zaporizhia power plant.
When this site was taken in March, the Russian military had opened fire on buildings there, at the risk of a major nuclear accident.
Corn via the Black Sea
Five days after the departure from the southern Ukrainian port of Odessa of a first cargo ship – expected in Lebanon on Sunday – carrying Ukrainian cereals since the outbreak of the Russian offensive, three other shipments, also of corn, left Ukraine in convoy, the Turkish Defense Ministry announced.
They are destined for Ireland, England and Turkey.
A series of regular rotations should follow to supply agricultural markets.
Simultaneously, a building is on its way, also to recover cereals, towards the Ukrainian port of Chernomorsk, which it must reach on Saturday.
“The main thing now is the steady increase in exports,” noted President Zelensky.
Russia and Ukraine have signed two separate agreements, validated by Turkey and the United Nations, which allow the export of Ukrainian cereals immobilized by the conflict and Russian agricultural products despite Western sanctions. With the aim of alleviating the food crisis in some of the poorest countries linked to the blocking of Ukrainian ports.
Angering Ukraine, Amnesty International in a report released Thursday after a four-month investigation blamed the Ukrainian military for setting up bases in schools and hospitals and launching attacks from populated areas – a violation of “international humanitarian law”, according to the NGO.
The Ukrainian head of state in return accused her of “attempting to grant amnesty to the Russian terrorist state” and of “transferring responsibility from the aggressor to the victim”.
On Friday, Amnesty International fully confirmed its “findings”, “based on evidence obtained in wide-ranging investigations subject to the same rigorous standards and vetting process” as all of its usual work.
The NGO, however, in its report, insisted that the Ukrainian tactics do not “in any way justify the indiscriminate Russian attacks” which have affected the population.
22 injured in Mykolaiv
On the ground, the Russians once again bombed Mykolaiv, a town not far from the southern front, on Friday.
Result: 22 injured, including a 13-year-old boy, and many damaged homes, said its mayor, Oleksandr Senkevich.
A curfew has been introduced in this city until Monday morning in order to neutralize the “collaborators” of the Russians, said the governor of the region Vitali Kim.
Ukrainian forces are currently conducting a counter-offensive in the south, where they claim to have retaken more than 50 villages that fell from Russian soldiers.