West to bolster Ukraine air defense; nuke plant loses power

Oct 12, 2022, 12:58 AM | Updated: 9:52 pm
A damaged school bus is seen in the retaken village of Velyka Oleksandrivka, Ukraine, Wednesday, Oc...

A damaged school bus is seen in the retaken village of Velyka Oleksandrivka, Ukraine, Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2022. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

(AP Photo/Leo Correa)

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Unbowed Western powers pledged to supply Ukraine with more potent air defense systems following a furious barrage of retaliatory Russian missile strikes, including one that temporarily knocked Europe’s biggest nuclear plant off the invaded country’s electrical grid Wednesday.

The Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant suffered a “blackout” when a missile damaged a distant electrical substation, Ukraine’s state nuclear operator said. The power loss increased the risk of a radiation emergency because the plant needs electricity to prevent its reactors from overheating.

Energoatom said the external power source was repaired after about eight hours and that the plant’s emergency diesel generators — which rely on uncertain fuel deliveries in the war zone — provided backup in the meantime, but a similarly hazardous interruption could happen at any time.

“Russia has seized the plant and is not taking any steps to deescalate. On the contrary, it is shelling important infrastructure daily,” the company’s press service told The Associated Press.

Hundreds of cities and towns across Ukraine lost electricity after Russia launched a wide-ranging missile assault Monday in retaliation for a truck bomb explosion that damaged a bridge linking Russia with the Crimean Peninsula, which it annexed in 2014.

With repairs to the grid still in progress, Ukraine’s prime minister asked people to reduce evening energy consumption by 25% and prepare for winter by keeping essentials such as warm clothes, candles, flashlights and batteries ready.

As the barrage that killed dozens of Ukrainians this week continued, Ukraine’s Western allies met at NATO headquarters in Brussels to calibrate their response.

U.S. Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Ukraine wants its Western partners to provide it with a complete air defense system to contend with Russian warplanes and missiles. Milley spoke to reporters after a meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group, about 50 nations that meet regularly to assess Kyiv’s needs and drum up equipment.

“What Ukraine is asking for, and what we think can be provided, is an integrated air missile defense system. So that doesn’t control all the airspace over Ukraine, but they’re designed to control priority targets that Ukraine needs to protect,” Milley told reporters

Andriy Yermak, the head of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s office, said the meeting was “historic” because decisions to close the sky for Ukraine were being made there. Ukraine has put a priority on bucking up its air defenses, but NATO member nations have worried how to do that without triggering a wider war in Europe.

Zelenskyy’s office said Moscow’s retaliatory strikes killed at least 14 people and wounded 34 over the last day in the Zaporizhzhia region and the Donetsk region to the east. At least 19 died in Monday’s opening onslaught, including five in Kyiv.

A day after Ukraine’s Defense Ministry announced the arrival of the first of Germany’s four promised IRIS-T air defense systems, the defense minister of the Netherlands said her country would deliver $14.5 million worth of air defense missiles in light of Russia’s latest attacks.

“These attacks reinforce the government’s belief that they can only be answered with unwavering support for Ukraine and its people,” Defense Minister Kajsa Ollongreher said. “The Netherlands, like our partners, will not be intimidated by Russia.”

French President Emmanuel Macron, in a television interview Wednesday evening, promised prompt delivery of more cannons and also anti-aircraft systems and missiles.

The U.S. is expected to deliver two advanced NASAMs anti-aircraft systems in the coming weeks.

The nuclear scare and pledges of more Western support came amid a flurry of developments in Russia’s 7 1/2-month-old invasion.

Moscow’s main domestic security agency said it arrested eight people — five Russians and three citizens of Ukraine and Armenia — over the blast on the Kerch bridge between Russia and Crimea. A truck loaded with explosives blew up while driving across the bridge Saturday, killing four people and causing sections of road to collapse, Russian officials said.

The span opened four years after Russia seized Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, serving as a symbol of Moscow’s regional dominance as well as a crucial route for military supplies for its troops in Ukraine and for Russians traveling to a popular vacation destination.

The Federal Security Service, known by the Russian-language acronym FSB, alleged the detained suspects acted on orders of Ukraine’s military intelligence to secretly move the explosives into Russia using forged documents.

Ukrainian Defense Ministry spokesman Andriy Yusov denied the accusation that his country was involved, telling reporters, “The entire activity of the FSB and the Investigative Committee is nonsense.”

Zelenskyy’s office said in a morning update that strikes on central and western parts of Ukraine had ceased but Russian shelling and attacks involving drones, heavy artillery and missiles continued in eight southeast regions.

More than a dozen missiles were fired at the city of Zaporizhzhia and its suburbs, damaging residential buildings. Part of a larger eponymous region that Moscow has illegally annexed, the city remains in Ukrainian hands while Russian forces control the area where the nuclear plant is located.

In Nikopol, a city of 104,000 across the Dnieper River from the plant, three people were gravely wounded, including a 6-year-old girl. Over 30 multistory residential buildings were damaged, as as well as private houses and schools, Ukrainian authorities said.

Rafael Grossi, the head of the U.N.’s International Atomic Energy Agency, said the loss of external power at the nuclear plant for the second time in five days again exposed “how precarious the situation is,” and he pleaded again for a security zone around the plant.

All six of the Zaporizhzhia reactors were stopped earlier due to the war. But they still require electricity to prevent them and their spent fuel rods from overheating to the point of a meltdown that could release radiation into the atmosphere of Ukraine and potentially other European countries, including Russia.

In the Donetsk region, Russian tanks shelled the city of Avdiivka, damaging residential buildings and a market. Seven people were killed and eight wounded, Kyrylo Tymoshenko, the deputy head of Zelenskyy’s office, said via Telegram, posting photos of bodies on the ground by a kiosk with potatoes and bread on the counter.

Before the bombardment of the last three days, Russian forces over the last month had lost ground to a Ukrainian counteroffensive in the east and south, drawing criticism from hawkish commentators in Russia.

Earlier Wednesday, Ukraine’s southern command said its forces recaptured five settlements in the southern Kherson region, on the western fringe of an arc of Russian-controlled territory in eastern and southern Ukraine.

Near the southern city of Mykolaiv, Ukrainian forces shot down nine Iranian Shahed-136 drones and destroyed eight Kalibr cruise missiles, the presidential office said.

___

Yuras Karmanau in Tallinn, Estonia, and Lorne Cook in Brussels contributed to this report.

___

Follow the AP’s coverage of the war at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

FILE - A protester holding flowers is confronted by a policeman during a protest on a street in Sha...
Associated Press

At Shanghai vigil, bold shout for change preceded crackdown

SHANGHAI (AP) — The mourners in Shanghai lit candles and placed flowers. Someone scrawled “Urumqi, 11.24, Rest in Peace” in red on cardboard — referring to the deadly apartment fire in China’s western city of Urumqi that sparked anger over perceptions the country’s strict COVID-19 measures played a role in the disaster. What started as […]
24 hours ago
FILE - A worker rides a rail car at a BNSF rail crossing in Saginaw, Texas, Wednesday, Sept. 14, 20...
Associated Press

Rail workers say deal won’t resolve quality-of-life concerns

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — When BNSF railroad conductor Justin Schaaf needed to take time off from work this summer, he had to make a choice: go to the dentist to get a cavity in his molar filled or attend a party for his son’s 7th birthday. He chose his son. “Ultimately I decided to take […]
24 hours ago
FILE - Web designer Lorie Smith is shown in her office on Nov. 7, 2022, in the southwest part of Li...
Associated Press

Both sides see high stakes in gay rights Supreme Court case

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court is being warned about the potentially dire consequences of a case next week involving a Christian graphic artist who objects to designing wedding websites for same-sex couples. Rule for the designer and the justices will expose not only same-sex couples but also Black people, immigrants, Jews, Muslims and others […]
24 hours ago
Associated Press

Today in History: December 3, gas disaster in Bhopal

Today in History Today is Saturday, Dec. 3, the 337th day of 2022. There are 28 days left in the year. Today’s Highlight in History: On Dec. 3, 1984, thousands of people died after a cloud of methyl isocyanate gas escaped from a pesticide plant operated by a Union Carbide subsidiary in Bhopal, India. On […]
24 hours ago
FILE - John Duarte, a Republican candidate in California's 13th Congressional District, arrives at ...
Associated Press

GOP’s Duarte takes California Central Valley US House seat

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Republican John Duarte defeated Democrat Adam Gray on Friday in a new California U.S. House district in the Central Valley farm belt that produced the closest congressional contest in the state this year. With virtually all of the ballots counted, Duarte has just over 50% of the vote. Gray conceded in […]
24 hours ago
Associated Press

Family seeks answers after police kill man on his own porch

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — The family of an Austin, Texas, man is seeking answers after he was fatally shot by police last month on his front porch following a late-night emergency call by a neighbor. Video and audio released Thursday show Austin police officers arrived Nov. 15, yelled “drop your gun,” then fired at Rajan […]
24 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Quantum Fiber

Stream 4K and more with powerful, high-speed fiber internet

Picking which streaming services to subscribe to are difficult choices, and there is no room for internet that cannot handle increased demands.
...
Quantum Fiber

How high-speed fiber internet can improve everyday life

Quantum Fiber supplies unlimited data with speeds up to 940 mbps, enough to share 4K videos with coworkers 20 times faster than a cable.
...
SCHWARTZ LASER EYE CENTER

Key dates for Arizona sports fans to look forward to this fall

Fall brings new beginnings in different ways for Arizona’s professional sports teams like the Cardinals and Coyotes.
West to bolster Ukraine air defense; nuke plant loses power