KYIV, Ukraine – Energy problems plagued Ukraine and Europe on Sunday as much of the Russian-occupied region, home to a largely crippled nuclear power plant, was reported temporarily out of power .
Only one of the six reactors at the Zaporizhzhia facility was connected to the power grid, while the main Russian pipeline carrying natural gas to Germany remained closed.
Fighting in Ukraine and related pipeline disputes are to blame for electricity and natural gas shortages that have worsened as Russia’s war in Ukraine has dragged on for a seventh month.
Both issues will take center stage this week. UN nuclear agency inspectors are due to inform the Security Council on Tuesday of their inspection and safeguard visit to the Zaporizhzhia power plant. And, on Friday, European Union energy ministers are due to hold an emergency meeting in Brussels to discuss the bloc’s electricity market, which European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said “does not work anymore”.
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Much of the Zaporizhzhia region, including the key town of Melitopol, lost power on Sunday.
But it was restored later, said Vladimir Rogov, the head of the local administration installed by Russia in Enerhodar, the city where the nuclear power plant is located. In the southwest, electricity was also cut in several parts of the port city of Kherson, according to Russian news agency Tass.
While Rogov said no new shelling of the area around the six-reactor Zaporizhzhia power plant was reported on Sunday, the effects of previous strikes persisted.
The International Atomic Energy Agency said on Saturday that the plant had been disconnected from its last main external power line and one reactor had gone offline due to grid restrictions. Another reactor was still operating and generating power for cooling and other critical safety functions at the site, as well as outdoors for households, factories and others via a backup power line, it said. the IAEA.
Russian forces have held the Zaporizhzhia facility, Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, since early March, and its Ukrainian personnel continue to operate it.
IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi said he would brief the UN Security Council on Tuesday on a mission he led to the plant last week. The 14-member delegation braved gunfire and artillery blasts to reach the factory last Thursday after months of negotiations to allow passage through the front lines of the fighting.
Europe’s energy situation remained clouded by the war in Ukraine.
Just hours before Russian energy company Gazprom resumed deliveries of natural gas to Germany via a major gas pipeline after a three-day shutdown, it announced on Friday that it would not be able to do so until leaks from oil in the turbines would not be repaired.
It is the latest development in a saga in which Gazprom has put forward technical problems as the reason for cutting gas flows through Nord Stream 1 – explanations that German officials have dismissed as cover for a political power game. Germany’s Siemens Energy – which made the turbines used on the pipeline – said leaking turbines can be repaired while gas continues to flow through the pipeline.