Australia’s foreign minister says 45 million Australian dollars (USD 33 million) have been frozen in an Australian financial institution under new sanctions in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Foreign Minister Marise Payne on Friday declined to identify the institution or who owned the money.
Australia has imposed sanctions against more than 350 Russian individuals including President Vladimir Putin. Australia has also targeted with sanctions 13 Belarus entities and individuals including Defense Minister Viktor Khrenin.
___ KYIV, Ukraine — Ukrainian authorities said Friday that a fire at Europe’s biggest nuclear plant ignited by Russian shelling has been extinguished and that Russian forces have taken control of the site.
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The regional military administration said in a statement that the fire at the Zaporizhzhia plant in Enerhodar was extinguished and that there is damage to the compartment of reactor No. 1 but it does not affect the safety of the power unit.
No information was immediately available about casualties.
The military administration said Russian forces took control of the site and that operational personnel is ensuring its safe operation.
Earlier, plant officials had said that shelling hit an administrative building and reactor No. 1.
The town mayor and state emergency service also said the fire was extinguished.
___ KYIV, Ukraine — A Russian airstrike on Thursday destroyed the power plant in Okhtyrka, leaving the city without heat or electricity, the head of the region said on Telegram. In the first days of the war, Russian troops attacked a military base in the city, located between Kharkiv and Kyiv, and officials said more than 70 Ukrainian soldiers were killed.
“We are trying to figure out how to get people out of the city urgently because in a day the apartment buildings will turn into a cold stone trap without water, light, or electricity,” Dmytro Zhyvytskyy said.
___ LONDON — The office of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson says he will seek an emergency U.N. Security Council meeting after Russian troops in Ukraine attacked a nuclear power plant and sparked a fire.
Johnson’s office says he spoke to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in the early hours of the morning. He says Britain will raise the issue immediately with Russia and close partners. Johnson’s office says he and Zelenskyy agree Russia must immediately cease attacking and allow emergency services unfettered access to the plant. The two agree a ceasefire is essential.
“The Prime Minister said the reckless actions of (Russian President Vladimir) Putin could now directly threaten the safety of all of Europe,” Johnson’s office said in a statement. “He said (the United Kingdom) would do everything it could to ensure the situation did not deteriorate further.” Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he also spoke with Zelenskyy about the attacks on the power plant. “These unacceptable attacks by Russia must cease immediately,” he said on Twitter.
_____ KYIV — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says he has informed the leaders of the U.S., Britain, the European Union, and the International Atomic Energy Agency about the dire threat of nuclear disaster after Russian troops shelled a nuclear power plant.
“If there is an explosion – that’s the end for everyone. The end for Europe. The evacuation of Europe,” he said in an emotional speech in the middle of the night.
“Only urgent action by Europe can stop the Russian troops. Do not allow the death of Europe from a catastrophe at a nuclear power station,” he said He’s calling on politicians and citizens to pressure Russian leadership to stop Russian troops.
____ WASHINGTON — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy updated U.S. President Joe Biden about the fire at a nuclear power station shelled by Russian troops. The White House said Biden and Zelenskyy urged Russia to cease its military activities in the area and allow firefighters and emergency responders to access the site.
Biden also got another update on the situation from the undersecretary for nuclear security at the U.S. Department of Energy and the administrator of the U.S. National Nuclear Security Administration.
___ VIENNA — The International Atomic Energy Agency said on Twitter that it’s been informed by Ukraine’s nuclear regulator that “there has been no change reported in radiation levels” at a nuclear power station shelled by Russian troops. The agency says Director-General Rafael Mariano Grossi was in touch with Ukraine Prime Minister Denys Schmygal and the Ukrainian regulator and operator about the situation at the Zaporizhzhia plant. Grossi “appeals for halt of use of force and warns of severe danger if reactors hit,” the IAEA said in another tweet.
The agency says Ukraine told it the fire hasn’t affected “essential” equipment and plant personnel is taking mitigatory actions.
An official in Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s office, not authorized to speak publicly and speak on condition of anonymity, says the reactors have not yet been damaged and radiation levels are normal.
___ ENERHODAR, Ukraine — Russian troops in Ukraine are shelling Europe’s largest nuclear power station.
“We demand that they stop the heavy weapons fire,” Andriy Tuz, spokesperson for the plant in Enerhodar, said in a video posted on Telegram. “There is a real threat of nuclear danger in the biggest atomic energy station in Europe.” The plant accounts for about one-quarter of Ukraine’s power generation.
Tuz told Ukrainian television that shells were falling directly on the Zaporizhzhia plant and had set fire to one of the facility’s six reactors. That reactor is under renovation and not operating, but there is nuclear fuel inside, he said.
Firefighters cannot get near the fire because they are being shot at, Tuz said.
A live-streamed security camera linked from the homepage of the nuclear power plant showed what appeared to be armored vehicles rolling into the facility’s parking lot and shining spotlights on the building where the camera was mounted. There are then what appear to be bright muzzle flashes from vehicles and then nearly simultaneous explosions in the surrounding buildings. Smoke then rises and drifts across the frame. ___ SEOUL, South Korea – South Korea says it won an exemption from recently expanded U.S. sanctions against Russia in exchange for strengthening its export restrictions against the country over an escalating invasion of Ukraine.
South Korea’s Ministry of Trade, Industry, and Energy confirmed the agreement on Friday after Trade Minister Yeo Han-Koo traveled to Washington this week for meetings with senior U.S. officials.
The Biden administration last week announced a series of sanctions aimed at cutting off Russia’s access to foreign technology products like semiconductors, lasers, aircraft, and communications equipment in response to its invasion of Ukraine.
To enforce the measures, Washington has imposed a regulation called the foreign direct product rule, which allows American officials to restrict the sales of foreign-made products to Russia from any country if the items are produced with U.S. technology.
The South Koreans had sought an exemption from the regulation to minimize the impact of U.S. sanctions on major South Korean companies, whose technology exports drive the country’s trade-dependent economy.
South Korea had already banned the export of strategic materials to Russia and joined international efforts to cut off key Russian banks from global payment systems. U.S. officials also told their South Korean counterparts that consumer goods such as smartphones, passenger cars, and washing machines aren’t subject to American sanctions as long as they are used by private Russian citizens or companies and not military users.