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Latest Developments in Ukraine: Sept. 2

Young cadets sing the national anthem during rehearsal of a ceremony on the first day of school at a cadet lyceum in Kyiv, Ukraine, Sept. 1, 2022.
Young cadets sing the national anthem during rehearsal of a ceremony on the first day of school at a cadet lyceum in Kyiv, Ukraine, Sept. 1, 2022.

For full coverage of the crisis in Ukraine, visit Flashpoint Ukraine.

The latest developments in Russia’s war on Ukraine. All times EDT.

10:27 p.m.: American B-52 bombers flew low over Stockholm's parliament and palace on Friday as Sweden ramps up exercises with the United States in view of the Scandinavian country's application to join NATO.

While the U.S. bombers have taken part in exercises in Sweden before, it was the first time they have flown over the capital, a military spokesperson, Therese Fagerstedt, told Agence France-Presse.

Sweden and Finland applied to join the Atlantic alliance in May following Russia's invasion of Ukraine. The US and other Western powers have since intensified military exercises and shows of military might across the region.

9:05 p.m.: G-20 energy talks in Bali ended Friday with the world's leading economies pledging to accelerate the transition to cleaner energy, Agrence France-Presse reported, but there was no binding agreement as officials struggle to overcome discord over Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

The non-binding "Bali Compact", which lists principles for achieving net zero emissions, was agreed by all members, Indonesian energy minister Arifin Tasrif said.

Details were not released but the minister said the plan seeks to strengthen national energy planning and implementation to improve energy security, efficiency and boost investment and financing.

8 p.m.: Russian ex-president Dmitry Medvedev said Russia would turn off gas supply to Europe if Brussels pushes ahead with a price cap on Russian gas.

Responding to comments by European Commission head Ursula von der Leyen about putting a ceiling on the price Europe pays for Russian gas, Medvedev wrote on the Telegram messaging app: "There will simply be no Russian gas in Europe."

7:10 p.m.: Swedish home appliance giant Electrolux and French industrial gas company Air Liquide both announced plans to withdraw from Russia on Friday, the latest foreign firms to leave since Moscow invaded Ukraine, Agence France-Presse reported.

Electrolux suspended its operations in Russia after the invasion. The Swedish group does not have a production site in Russia, but before the war the country accounted for 1.6% of its global turnover.

Meanwhile Air Liquide, which employs nearly 720 people in Russia, said it plans to withdraw from Russia by handing over its activities in the country to local managers.

It said its turnover in Russia represents less than 1% percent of the group's total, which exceeded $23 billion in 2021.

6:05 p.m.: U.S. President Joe Biden will request $11.7 billion in emergency funding from Congress to provide lethal aid and budget support to Ukraine, and $22.4 billion for COVID-19 relief ahead of a potential fall case surge, the White House said on Friday, according to Reuters.

The emergency funding request will also include $2 billion to address the impact of Russia's war in Ukraine on U.S. energy supplies, Shalanda Young, director of the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB), wrote in blog post.

The $47.1 billion request comes ahead of the conclusion of the 2022 fiscal year on Sept 30. Congress has not yet passed a 2023 funding bill, and Young said lawmakers would likely need to pass a stopgap funding measure allowing them more time to negotiate a more comprehensive fiscal package.

The White House's requests for the stopgap measure, known as a continuing resolution (CR), will also include $3.9 billion in funding to fight against an outbreak of the monkeypox virus and $6.5 billion for natural disaster relief, Young wrote.

5:12 p.m.: Europe’s energy crisis loomed larger Friday after Russian energy giant Gazprom said it couldn’t resume the supply of natural gas through a key pipeline to Germany for now, citing what it said was a need for urgent maintenance work to repair key components, just hours before it was due to restart deliveries, The Associated Press reported.

The Russian state-run energy company had shut down the Nord Stream 1 pipeline on Wednesday for what it said would be three days of maintenance.

It said in a social media post Friday evening that it had identified “malfunctions” of a turbine and added that the pipeline would not work unless those were eliminated.

It was the latest development in a saga in which Gazprom has advanced technical problems as the reason for reducing gas flows through Nord Stream 1 — explanations that German officials have rejected as a cover for a political power play following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

European utilities have scrambled to find additional supply during the summer months to get ready for the winter’s heating demands, buying expensive liquefied gas that comes by ship, while additional supplies have come by pipeline from Norway and Azerbaijan.

Fears of a winter shortage have eased somewhat as storage has progressed, but a complete cutoff could present Europe with serious difficulties, analysts say. The European Union needs to step up efforts to reduce gas consumption, said energy policy expert Simone Tagliapietra at the Bruegel think tank in Brussels.

4:18 p.m.: The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency said Friday that he and his team saw everything they asked to see at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine, were not surprised by anything, and he will issue a report early next week on his findings, VOA’s United Nations correspondent Margaret Besheer reported.

"My concern would be the physical integrity – would be the power supply and of course the staff," Rafael Mariano Grossi told reporters at the airport in Vienna moments after landing.

He said it is very important for the IAEA to have a physical presence at the facility.

"What we are doing there is stabilizing, looking at safety, the security, at the safeguard aspects of the plant, in the conviction that if we get this right, this will have some bearing, [some] influence in what happens overall," he said.

A team of 13 experts accompanied Grossi, and he said six have remained at Zaporizhzhia. Of those six, two will remain until hostilities cease, which he said will make a huge difference.

2:45 p.m.: Ukraine's military said it had carried out strikes against Russian positions in the region around the southern town of Enerhodar on Friday, near a nuclear power plant where U.N. experts are working, Reuters reported.

The revelation by the armed forces' general staff was unusual, since the military rarely gives details of specific targets. A team from the International Atomic Energy Agency is gathering data at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station, on the edge of Russian-occupied Enerhodar.

"It has been confirmed that in the region around the towns of Kherson and Enerhodar, precise strikes by our armed forces destroyed three enemy artillery systems as well as a warehouse with ammunition and up to a company of soldiers," the general staff said in a Facebook post.

It did not give more details about the strikes. Kherson is about 300 km (185 miles) south-west of Enerhodar.

Russia has repeatedly accused Ukraine of shelling the nuclear power plant. Kyiv rejects the charge, saying pro-Moscow forces are responsible for attacking the facility.

2 p.m.: U.N. nuclear watchdog chief Rafael Grossi holds a news conference on Friday around 2:00 p.m. EDT (1800 GMT) upon his return from Ukraine, where he led a mission to the Russian-held Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, the watchdog said.

The news conference is being held at Vienna airport after Grossi landed there, the International Atomic Energy Agency said in a statement.

1:25 p.m.: The International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA) mission to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant could still be important despite the difficulties met due to Russian presence at the site, Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on Friday, according to Reuters.

"We did everything to ensure that (the) IAEA would get access to the Zaporizhzhia plant and I believe that this mission may still have a role to play," Zelenskyy said in a video streamed at The European House, Ambrosetti Forum meeting in northern Italy.

Ukraine's state nuclear company earlier on Friday said that the IAEA mission had not been allowed to enter the plant's crisis center, where Ukraine says Russian troops are stationed, and would struggle to make an impartial assessment of the situation.

"Unfortunately, we haven't heard the main thing from the IAEA which is the call for Russia to demilitarize the station," Zelenskyy said. "I hope the mission will comply with what we've agreed and that it will serve the interests of the entire international community."

12:50 p.m.: After his son, a Russian soldier, was killed in Ukraine, Rinat Sadykov volunteered to join the Russian forces. Back at his home in Siberia, he discusses the loss of his son and his disappointment with the state of the Russian military in eastern Ukraine. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty has this report.

12:20 p.m.: Fourteen Ukrainian service personnel have been returned to Ukraine in a new prisoner exchange, Ukraine's POW co-ordination center said on Friday, according to Reuters.

The center did not specify who was released in return.

One of the released Ukrainian POWs was an officer, and another a medic, the coordination center said.

11:40 a.m.: Finance ministers from the Group of Seven industrial powers on Friday pledged to impose a cap on the price of Russian oil in a bid to limit the Kremlin’s revenues and ability to fund its war in Ukraine, while also curtailing the war’s impact on energy prices and inflation, The Associated Press reported.

The ministers said they would impose the cap by barring insurance or shipping companies from helping Russia sell oil at prices above the set limit.

The decision follows discussions at the group’s summit earlier this year and aims at solving one of the vexing problems with sanctions against Russia: Global oil prices have risen on fears of restricted supply, which has only fattened the Kremlin’s take.

Meanwhile, skyrocketing energy prices have fed inflation that is squeezing consumers in rich and poor countries alike and threatens to push Europe into recession.

11:05 a.m.: A 31-year-old woman from eastern Ukraine has been detained on accusations of sending the locations of her soldier husband's unit and other army assets to Russian military intelligence, Ukraine's State Security Service (SBU) said on Friday, according to Reuters.

The unnamed woman from Dnipropetrovsk region passed on information about the locations of military buildings and equipment along frontline positions in the Donetsk and Zaporizhzhia regions, the SBU wrote on Telegram.

The woman would question her husband about the location of his unit and other Ukrainian formations on the frontline, the agency said.

"She would pass the information she received through messenger applications to Russian military intelligence, where it was used for artillery and air strikes," its statement said. "She took this step despite the fact that she is married to a serviceman of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, and that they have a son together," the agency said.

10:25 a.m.:

9:15 a.m.: Russian President Vladimir Putin's decision to stay away from the funeral on Saturday of Mikhail Gorbachev, the last Soviet leader, sends a deliberate message that underlines his differing view of the world, one of Russia's most prominent journalists has said, according to Reuters.

According to Vladimir Pozner, a veteran journalist who interviewed Gorbachev many times and who knows Russia's political elite well, Putin's decision not to attend the funeral was a calculated one.

"I think it’s a kind of a statement," Pozner, 88, told Reuters in an interview. "And I don’t think that Mr. Putin is a particular fan of Mr. Gorbachev. That’s his right, he doesn’t have to be. I think they saw the world very differently."

Putin called the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union, over which Gorbachev unwittingly presided, the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century which he would reverse if given a chance. Gorbachev was devastated too by the collapse of the USSR which he had hoped to reform and preserve.

Putin's decision to launch what he called "a special military operation" in Ukraine appears aimed at reversing, at least in part, the collapse which Gorbachev failed to prevent.

8:30 a.m.: President Joe Biden will meet with South African President Cyril Ramaphosa this month, as the administration looks to draw African nations closer to the U.S. at a time when South Africa and many of its neighbors have staked out neutral ground on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, The Associated Press reported Friday.

Announcement of the September 16 visit comes on the heels of U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s visit to South Africa last month, in which he said the Biden administration sees Africa’s 54 nations as “equal partners” in tackling global problems.

But the administration has been disappointed that South Africa and much of the continent have declined to follow the U.S. in condemning the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

South Africa abstained in a United Nations vote to condemn Russia’s action, and Ramaphosa has avoided any criticism of Russia and instead has called for a mediated peace.

8:10 a.m.:

7:55 a.m.: The United Nations food agency's world price index fell for a fifth month in a row in August, further from all-time highs hit earlier this year, as a resumption of grain exports from Ukrainian ports contributed to improved supply prospects, Reuters reported.

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said on Friday that its price index, which tracks the most globally traded food commodities, averaged 138.0 points last month versus a revised 140.7 for July.

The July figure was previously put at 140.9.

The index has fallen from a record of 159.7 in March, hit after Russia's invasion of Ukraine. The August reading was, however, 7.9% higher than a year earlier.

FAO's cereal price index fell 1.4% month-on-month in August, with the re-opening of Ukrainian Black Sea ports under a diplomatic deal as well as favorable wheat harvest prospects in North America and Russia weighing on prices, the agency said.

In separate cereal supply and demand estimates, FAO lowered its forecast for global cereal production in 2022 to 2.774 billion metric tons from a previous projection of 2.792 billion in early July.

7:15 a.m.: A cargo ship carrying tons of grain from Ukraine was stranded in Istanbul’s Bosporus and had to be rescued early Friday, The Associated Press reported.

Turkey’s Directorate General of Coastal Safety tweeted that the 173-meter cargo ship was stuck off the coast of the scenic Bebek neighborhood late Thursday because of a rudder malfunction. The busy strait was closed to traffic for the rescue by coastal safety boats. The Panama-flagged Lady Zehma was towed and the strait re-opened.

The cargo ship had departed the Ukrainian port of Chornomorsk under the deal brokered by the United Nations that allows the safe shipment of Ukrainian grain. It’s the first reported incident of malfunction since grain shipments restarted last month.

On August 29, the Joint Coordination Center in Istanbul — which monitors the ships under the grain deal and is composed of Turkish, Russian, Ukrainian and U.N. officials — authorized the movement of Lady Zehma with 3,000 metric tons of corn to Ravenna, Italy. The ship is currently anchored in the Marmara Sea off the coast of Istanbul.

6:50 a.m.: Ukraine and Russia traded accusations over each others' actions around the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant on Friday as a team of inspectors from the UN nuclear watchdog tried to check the safety of the facility and avert a potential disaster, Reuters reported.

Ukraine's state nuclear company said the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) mission had not been allowed to enter the plant's crisis center, where Ukraine says Russian troops are stationed, and would struggle to make an impartial assessment. Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said Ukraine was continuing to shell the plant, raising the risk of a nuclear catastrophe.

The site, 10 km (6 miles) from Ukrainian positions across the Dnipro river, was captured by Russian forces soon after they invaded Ukraine in late February and has become the focus of concern.

It has come under repeated shelling over the past month, with Kyiv and Moscow trading blame for the firing. The plant is still run by Ukrainian staff and Russia has rejected calls for it to withdraw its troops.

IAEA chief Rafael Grossi and his team spent several hours at Europe's largest nuclear power plant on Thursday and intended to return on Friday across the frontlines to assess damage. Speaking after the initial visit, Grossi said the physical integrity of the plant had been violated several times and he was worried by the situation there. Ukraine's state nuclear company Energoatom said it would be would be difficult for the IAEA team to make an impartial assessment due to Russian interference.

6:25 a.m.: Yevgeny Prigozhin, a close associate of Russian President Vladimir Putin, has reportedly recruited almost 1,000 inmates from two penal colonies in the southwestern Rostov region, promising them early release if they fight in Moscow's war against Ukraine, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported.

Prigozhin is a businessman who is believed to be the leader of Russia's Wagner private paramilitary group.

The Vot Tak online television channel quoted inmates at a penal colony in the city of Bataisk on September 1 as saying that Prigozhin arrived at the penitentiary in recent days by personal helicopter along with his associate Dmitry Utkin. He then met with all of the inmates at the colony's central square.

According to the inmates, the administration of the IK-15 penal colony ordered all guards to switch off their personal video cameras while Prigozhin and Utkin talked to the inmates.

They said Prigozhin promised those who joined Russian armed forces in Ukraine will get early release in six months, adding that during the military operations in Ukraine, the inmates "can do anything they want with the Ukrainians."

5:45 a.m.: Two inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will stay at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant on a permanent basis, Russia's ambassador to international institutions in Vienna told the RIA Novosti news agency on Friday, according to Reuters.

An IAEA mission is currently at the plant, Europe's largest nuclear facility which has been under the control of Russian forces since March.

5:40 a.m.:

5:34 a.m.: The latest intelligence update from the U.K. defense ministry said Heavy fighting continues in southern Ukraine, including shelling in Enerhodar district, near the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.

4:28 a.m.: The latest Ukraine assessment from the Institute for the Study of War, a U.S. think tank, said Russian forces conducted ground attacks northwest of Slovyansk, south and northeast of Bakhmut, and northwest and southwest of Donetsk City.

The Russian 3rd Army Corps is continuing to form for deployment to Donbas, the update said, and Russian milbloggers reiterated claims that Ukrainian forces are fighting along four axes of advance in Western Kherson Oblast.

3:32 a.m.: The Joint Operational Coordination Centre has approved eight vessels carrying a total of 158,075 metric tons of grain and other food products to leave Ukraine on Friday.

They are: the Nord Virgo, from Yuhzny/Pivdennyi to Huangpu, China, carrying 62,340 metric tons of corn; the Stella GS, from Odesa to Haifa, Israel, carrying 30,300 metric tons of corn; the Katsuyama, from Chornomorsk to Haldia, India, carrying 21,000 metric tons of sunflower oil; the Mavka, from Chornomorsk to Constanta, Romania, carrying 12,500 metric tons of sunflower oil; the Fulmar S, from Yuhzny/Pivdennyi to Varna, Bulgaria, carrying 9,835 metric tons of sunflower meal; the Spring, from Chornomorsk to Iskandarun, Turkey, carrying 8,500 metric tons of wheat; the Canga Star, from Chornomorsk to Brest, France, carrying 7,000 metric tons of rapeseed, and the Mubariz Ibrahimov, from Odesa to Tekirdag, Turkey, carrying 6,600 metric tons of sunflower oil.

2:40 a.m.: Finland on Thursday slashed the number of visas issued to Russian citizens to a tenth of the regular amount in a move seen as a show of solidarity with Ukraine.

Finland, which shares the longest border with Russia of all European Union member countries, announced the decision in August amid growing pressure from politicians and ordinary citizens to restrict the movement of Russian tourists through the Nordic country as Moscow continues its war in Ukraine, The Associated Press reported.

Starting Thursday, Finland will only permit Russians to apply for tourist visas once a week and in just four Russian cities: Moscow, St. Petersburg, Murmansk and Petrozavodsk close to the Finnish border.

Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto said he was particularly worried about a kind of Russian “tourist route” through Helsinki airport, which has been used by thousands of Russians before Moscow’s Feb. 24 attack on Ukraine.

On top of its visa decision, the Finnish Foreign Ministry said the government is currently exploring the possibility of helping Russian human rights defenders, civil society members and journalists critical to the Kremlin by establishing a new kind of humanitarian visa enabling them to access the Nordic country.

1:30 a.m.: U.S. law enforcement agents on Thursday searched New York properties linked to Viktor Vekselberg, a sanctioned billionaire Russian oligarch, NBC New York reported, as Washington seeks to use sanctions and property seizures to pressure Moscow to stop its invasion of Ukraine.

A Reuters witness observed FBI and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) agents haul boxes and safes out of an apartment building on Park Avenue in Manhattan, where NBC said a property linked to Vekselberg was located.

Agents also searched a Vekselberg-linked property in Southampton, New York, NBC said.

Vekselberg could not be reached for comment. An FBI spokeswoman confirmed that agents were present at the Manhattan and Southampton addresses but declined to comment further. An HSI spokesperson declined to comment.

12:02 a.m.: Geopolitical tensions simmered at the U.S. Open on Thursday as Ukrainian Marta Kostyuk refused the customary handshake at the net when Belarusian Victoria Azarenka defeated her 6-2 6-3 in the second round.

The pair exchanged a quick tap of the racket on Court 17.

It marked the latest uneasy moment at the year's final major tennis tournament, where Russians, Belarusians and Ukrainians compete alongside one another against the backdrop of military conflict.

Belarus is being used as a key staging ground for Russia's war in Ukraine, which Moscow terms a "special operation."

Some information in this report came from The Associated Press and Reuters.

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