Key developments

An IAEA team headed to Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant on Aug 29.

At least 972 children in Ukraine have been killed or injured by violence since the conflict escalated nearly six months ago.

Ukraine set up a crisis center to deal with the possible emergency situation at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant (NPP) in southern Ukraine.

A total of 24 ships of grain and other foodstuffs have left Ukraine under a grain deal signed last month in Türkiye.

10:20 2022-10-05
Zelensky signs decree ruling out negotiations with Putin
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. [Photo/Agencies]

KYIV -- Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky signed a decree to put into effect the decision of the National Security and Defense Council (NSDC), which rules out holding any negotiations with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Zelensky's press service reported Tuesday.

The document, published on Zelensky's website, said that Ukraine's NSDC deemed holding talks with Putin "impossible."

With his decree, Zelensky also instructed the government to prepare proposals for the creation of a multi-level security guarantee system designed to boost Ukraine's defense potential.

On Sept 30, the NSDC adopted a decision aimed at guaranteeing Ukraine's security and restoring its territorial integrity following Moscow's formal recognition of four Ukrainian regions, which are partially controlled by Russia, as Russian territory.

Ukrainian and Russian negotiators held the latest round of face-to-face peace talks in Istanbul, Türkiye, on March 29.

18:35 2022-10-01
China urges leaving space for resolving Ukraine crisis through diplomatic negotiations
China's permanent representative to the United Nations Zhang Jun. [Photo/Xinhua]

UNITED NATIONS - China on Friday urged all sides to leave space for diplomatic negotiations in efforts to resolve the Ukraine crisis.

"China calls on all parties concerned to exercise restraint, refrain from actions that exacerbate tensions, and leave space for settlement through diplomatic negotiations," Zhang Jun, China's permanent representative to the United Nations, said in his explanation of China's vote on a Security Council draft resolution on Ukraine.

The draft resolution, put forward by Albania and the United States, failed to pass in the Security Council as it was vetoed by Russia. China, India, Brazil and Gabon abstained from the voting.

China's position on the issue of Ukraine is "consistent and clear." The sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries should be safeguarded, the purposes and principles of the UN Charter should be observed, the legitimate security concerns of all parties should be taken seriously, and all actors conducive to the peaceful resolution of the crisis should be supported, Zhang said.

China believes that "the pressing priority is to make every effort to de-escalate the situation, and guide the parties to restart diplomatic negotiations as soon as possible to open the door to a political settlement with legitimate concerns brought into the negotiations and the viable options on the table, in an effort to achieve an early ceasefire," said the ambassador.

Zhang said that the current crisis in Ukraine is a result of the accumulation and interplay of various problems and tensions over a long period of time. "Facts have shown that political isolation, sanctions and pressurization fuel the tensions, and bloc confrontation will not bring peace. Instead, they will only worsen the situation, and make the issue more complicated and intractable."

"As a responsible country, China has always stood on the side of peace. We will continue to play a constructive role in easing the situation and resolving the crisis," said the ambassador.

09:25 2022-09-27
West's sanctions turn Ukraine conflict into 'global economic war'
Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban attends a special meeting of the European Council at the European Union headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, May 30, 2022. [Photo/Xinhua]

BUDAPEST - The Western countries' sanctions against Russia have turned the "local" conflict between Russia and Ukraine into a "global economic war," Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban said here on Monday.

An increasing number of countries across the world is becoming "victim" of the conflict in Ukraine, Orban said at the opening of Parliament's autumn session.

He said that the United States and the European Union (EU) were supplying Ukraine with weapons and money, but Russia's reserves of material and men were "endless."

According to Orban, the "EU's bureaucrats" promised that the sanctions would hurt Russia and bring an end to the conflict, but none of that happened.

"European people have become poorer (because of the sanctions), while Russia has not fallen to its knees," he argued. "This weapon has backfired: with the sanctions, Europe has shot itself in the foot."

Orban also said that families across Europe were paying the price of the sanctions in their energy bills.

He said that through inflation and rising prices, European countries are now paying a "sanctions surcharge."

Orban also said he was convinced that if the sanctions ended, prices would go down very quickly. "Let's be blunt, if we remove the sanctions, prices would immediately drop by half, and inflation would also at least be halved."

He said he firmly believed that without the sanctions, the European economy would also "gain strength" and avoid the "threatening recession."

"We demand an immediate ceasefire and peace talks rather than prolonging and deepening" the conflict, he said, noting that Hungary's priorities were to preserve its security and its economic and national sovereignty.

09:25 2022-09-26
Hungarian chief diplomat calls Western sanctions 'complete failure'

BUDAPEST -- Sanctions on Russia are causing damage to Europe and it is a "complete failure," said Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Peter Szijjarto here on Sunday.

As a result of the European Union's (EU) sanctions imposed so far due to the Russia-Ukraine conflict, European inflation is skyrocketing, utility costs, natural gas prices, and food prices have risen, and the continent's economy has entered recession, Szijjarto told public radio channel MR1.

"This was a complete failure, as it is now clear that these sanctions have hurt Europe much more than Russia itself and are causing enormous damage to the EU's economy," he said.

Szijjarto labeled a potential eighth sanction package as a "wrong direction" but noted that there are no final decisions on the matter yet, and not even a formal proposal has been prepared so far.

"We will not give our consent to any decision that would harm the Hungarian national interest. The security of our energy supply remains a red line, for us any sanctions that would endanger our energy supply are unacceptable," he said.

Szijjarto also voiced his opinion about the United States gaining from the EU's sanctions policy. "It is beyond dispute that the American economy is winning with these sanctions, while the EU's economy is headed for recession," said the minister.

"I consider dialogue and negotiation to be a value, it seems that not everyone agrees on that," Szijjarto said.

"If we close the communication channels, the diplomatic channels, we will permanently give up and lose the hope that this conflict will ever end," he added.

09:20 2022-09-26
'Protection' for all Russian territory: Lavrov
Food is distributed to the residents of Izyum, Kharkiv region, on Saturday. ANATOLII STEPANOV/AFP

UNITED NATIONS — Russia's Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, on Saturday said regions in which referendums are being held would be under Russia's "full protection" if they are incorporated in line with the referendums.

Lavrov, addressing the United Nations General Assembly and the world's media in New York, talked of Russia's special military operation since February.

From Friday, referendums were conducted in four eastern regions: Lugansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia.

"Following those referendums, Russia of course will respect the expression of the will of those people who for many long years have been suffering," Lavrov said at a news conference after he addressed the assembly.

Lavrov said Russian territory, including that "further enshrined "in Russia's constitution in the future, "is under the full protection of the state".

"All of the laws, doctrines, concepts and strategies of the Russian Federation apply to all of its territory," Lavrov said.

Russia has accused the United States and others of being parties to the conflict because they are sending weapons to help Ukraine.

Asked whether he could foresee future talks with the US to make Russia feel more secure about what it calls NATO encroachment, Lavrov said it was the West that had broken off previous discussions.

"We're not saying no to contacts. And when proposals to that effect come in, we agree. If our partners want to meet quietly so nobody finds out about it, that's fine because it's always better to talk than not to talk. But in the present situation, Russia is quite simply not going to make the first step."

Pro-Moscow authorities have made it clear that they consider the results of the referendums a foregone conclusion.

The state-run TASS news agency cited Denis Pushilin, head of the Donetsk area, as saying his priorities would not change once the region was part of Russia.

TASS quoted an unnamed source as saying Russia's lower house of parliament, the Duma, could debate a bill on the incorporation of the four regions as soon as Thursday, two days after the end of referendums.

The Interfax agency quoted a source saying the upper house could consider the bill the same day, and RIA Novosti, also citing an unnamed source, said President Vladimir Putin could be preparing to make a formal address to an extraordinary joint session of both houses on Friday.

Agencies Via Xinhua

09:12 2022-09-21
Kremlin dismisses mass-grave claims
Residents carry away donated bread in the town of Izyum in Ukraine's Kharkiv region on Monday. GLEB GARANICH/REUTERS

KUPIANSK, Ukraine-The Kremlin on Monday denied its forces were responsible for large-scale killings in eastern Ukraine and accused Kyiv of fabricating its discoveries of mass graves in the recaptured territory.

Ukraine recaptured Izyum and other towns in the east this month, crippling Kremlin supply routes and bringing fresh claims of Russian atrocities with the discovery of hundreds of graves.

"These are lies," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Monday. Moscow, he said, "will stand up for the truth in this story".

Ukraine said its troops have marched farther east, paving the way for a potential assault on Moscow's forces in the Donbas region as Kyiv seeks more Western arms.

"The occupiers are clearly in a panic," Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a televised address late on Monday, adding that he was now focused on "speed".

"The speed at which our troops are moving. The speed in restoring normal life," Zelensky said.

Western supplies

British Prime Minister Liz Truss will tell world leaders this week that the UK will next year match or exceed the 2.3 billion pounds ($2.63 billion) it committed to Ukraine in 2022, the Financial Times reported on Tuesday.

Her comments came as British politics returned to center stage on Tuesday after the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II, with Truss flying to her first major summit in New York.

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock vowed to support countries hardest hit by the fallout from Russia's special military operation in Ukraine as she headed to the UN General Assembly on Tuesday.

Some 150 leaders from around the world gathered in New York on Tuesday for the United Nations' massive annual summit, returning in person after two years of pandemic restrictions and video addresses.

In one of the largest exchanges in the seven-month conflict, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told US television that Russia and Ukraine have agreed to swap 200 prisoners. Erdogan made the announcement after talks last week with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of a regional summit in Uzbekistan.

Erdogan did not provide full details about the swap, calling the people being exchanged "hostages" and not saying how many there were from each side.

"Two hundred hostages will be exchanged upon agreement between the parties. I think a significant step will be taken forward," Erdogan told PBS television late on Monday.

Agencies via Xinhua

09:03 2022-09-20
Ukraine's agricultural exports under grain deal reach 3.9m tons
Wheat grain is seen on the MV Brave Commander vessel from Yuzhny Port in Ukraine to the Horn of Africa as it docks at port of Djibouti in Djibouti August 30, 2022. [Photo/Agencies]

KYIV - Ukraine's agricultural exports under a key grain deal reached 3.9 million tons, the Ukrainian Sea Ports Authority said Monday.

So far, a total of 169 ships have left Ukraine's Black Sea ports for countries in Asia, Europe and Africa under the deal signed in July in Türkiye.

On Monday alone, four ships loaded with more than 178,000 tons of foodstuffs departed from the ports of Odesa and Pivdenny.

On July 22, Ukraine and Russia separately signed a deal with Türkiye and the United Nations in Istanbul to resume food and fertilizer shipments from Ukrainian ports to international markets via the Black Sea.

On Aug. 1, the first cargo vessel carrying grain after the breakout of the Russia-Ukraine conflict left Odesa for the port of Tripoli in Lebanon.

10:02 2022-09-19
Nuclear plant reconnected to national grid, IAEA says
A satellite imagery shows closer view of reactors at Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, Ukraine, August 29, 2022. [Photo/Agencies]

KYIV/SAMARKAND-The Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant was receiving power from the national grid once again, the UN's atomic agency said on Saturday after it was cut off from external power, raising the risk of an accident.

The plant had been cut from the national grid since September due to shelling.

"The restored 750-kilovolt line is now providing Europe's largest nuclear power plant … with the electricity it needs for reactor cooling and other essential safety functions," the International Atomic Energy Agency said.

Since being cut off from the grid, the station was relying on its own power supplies to operate the essential safety mechanisms.

Experts feared that the plant could run out of internal power.

The IAEA visited the power plant in early September, and several members of the IAEA team remained inside the plant on a permanent basis to monitor the situation.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal thanked the United States on Saturday for its support after Ukraine received a further $1.5 billion in international financial assistance.

"The state budget of Ukraine received a grant of $1.5 billion. This is the last tranche of $4.5 billion aid from the United States from@WorldBank Trust Fund," Shmyhal tweeted.

He said the funds would be used to reimburse budget expenditure for pension payments and social assistance programs.

President Vladimir Putin denied on Friday that Russia had anything to do with Europe's energy crisis, saying that if the European Union wanted more gas, it should lift sanctions preventing the opening of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline.

Speaking to reporters after the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit in Uzbekistan, Putin said Russia would fulfill its energy obligations.

"The bottom line is, if you have an urge, if it's so hard for you, just lift the sanctions on Nord Stream 2, which is 55 billion cubic meters of gas per year. Just push the button and everyt