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Ukraine said on Friday it struck a Russian base in Energodar, not far from the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant from where it accuses Russia of having removed its armaments before its inspection by a team from the International Energy Agency. atomic (IAEA).

At the same time, while the G7 countries were targeting Russia's energy windfall by agreeing to cap the price of its oil, Moscow sent a shiver down the spine of Europeans by announcing that the Nord Stream gas pipeline would be completely shut down until it was repaired. a turbine, a reason deemed fallacious by Germany, which is highly dependent on Russian gas.

"In the localities of Kherson and Energodar, precise strikes by our troops destroyed three enemy artillery systems, as well as an ammunition depot" killing many Russian soldiers, the Ukrainian army said in a statement. its daily news item.

The Ukrainian army also claimed that the Russian forces had evacuated "all their military equipment from the site of the plant" before the arrival on Thursday of the IAEA mission, several of whose members remained at the plant and always find there.

The Zaporizhia power plant, the largest in Europe, fell to Russian troops in March, shortly after Moscow launched its invasion of Ukraine, and its site was targeted by several bombardments raising fears of a nuclear disaster. .

kyiv and Moscow reject responsibility for these strikes.

On Thursday morning, before the arrival of the IAEA mission, the Ukrainian authorities had accused the Russians of having themselves bombed Energodar, a city they control, with the intention of placing the responsibility on kyiv. .

In a video message Thursday evening, after initial statements by the director general of the IAEA, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky had expressed his dissatisfaction, believing that the organization should have demanded the withdrawal of Russian soldiers from the plant.

"Continuous Presence"

"The main thing that should happen is the demilitarization of the territory of the plant (...). And it is regrettable that we have not yet heard the appropriate messages from the IAEA", he had said, affirming that it was "the key" to what had been agreed with agency boss Rafael Grossi.

"It is not possible to leave the troops of a terrorist state at the nuclear power plant," he insisted in a new video message on Friday. He further accused the Russian side of turning away journalists who accompanied the mission, understanding that "it would be impossible to lie to the AEIA and the whole world in the presence of free media".

The director of the IAEA, back in Vienna on Friday evening, dismissed these criticisms.

"We are never manipulated, we never lose our bearings, we know what we have to do," he told reporters when asked about the Ukrainian president's criticism.

After being accused by kyiv of trying to hinder the IAEA mission, Russia for its part judged Friday "very positive" that it was able to go to the plant.

Thursday, after his inspection of these facilities, Rafael Grossi found that the "physical integrity" of the plant had been "violated on several occasions", stressing that it was "something that cannot continue to happen". However, he did not name the responsible party, while Russians and Ukrainians have been accusing each other for weeks of bombardments on the site.

The International Atomic Energy Agency now intends to "establish a continuous presence" in the plant, Mr. Grossi had repeated. He said Friday evening that it would be made up of two experts.

He noted that given the "cohabitation" of Ukrainian employees, representatives of the Russian nuclear sector and "military forces", the plant continued to operate thanks to a "professional modus vivendi".

On another file, that of gas, the Russian giant Gazprom announced on Friday that the Nord Stream gas pipeline, vital for deliveries in Europe, would be "completely" stopped until the repair of a turbine, while it was originally scheduled to return to service on Saturday after a maintenance operation.

scared on the gas

In a statement, Gazprom said it discovered "oil leaks" in the turbine during this maintenance operation. "Until the repair (...) the transport of gas via Nord Stream is completely suspended", indicated the group.

Russia was due to resume gas deliveries via the Nord Stream pipeline on Saturday, after another three-day hiatus that has strained the nerves of Europeans, engaged in a race against time to avoid an energy crisis this winter.

On Friday, Gazprom assured that it had discovered these technical problems during a technical inspection carried out with representatives of the German group Siemens, which manufactured the turbine.

Oil leaks do not justify a shutdown of the gas pipeline by Gazprom, replied Siemens Energy. "(...) we can affirm that such a finding does not constitute a technical reason to stop operations," the group said in a statement, adding that in the past the appearance "of this type of leak did not did not lead to the cessation of operations".

Earlier in the day, the Kremlin said the operation of the Nord Stream gas pipeline was "threatened" by a shortage of spare parts due to sanctions targeting Moscow for its offensive in Ukraine.

Since the start of the Kremlin's military intervention in Ukraine at the end of February, Moscow has sharply reduced its gas deliveries to Europeans, in reaction to massive Western sanctions.

The Europeans, very dependent on Russian gas, accuse the Kremlin of using it as a means of pressure. Moscow denies this, citing technical problems caused by the sanctions or late payments.

In particular, Russia claims that the sanctions prevent the return of a Siemens turbine that had been sent to Canada for repair. Germany, where the turbine is located, ensures on the contrary that it is Moscow which is blocking the return of this key element.

Arm wrestling the crude

The G7, which brings together some of the most industrialized countries on the planet, finally announced on Friday that it would "urgently" cap the price of imported Russian oil to complicate Moscow's financing of its military intervention in Ukraine.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov had earlier warned of the "significant destabilization of the crude markets" that such a decision will cause "with certainty".

The Russian government had also warned the day before that no more oil would be sold to countries that would apply this measure.

“The price cap will be set at a level based on a series of technical data,” the G7 member states explained on Friday, encouraging a “broad coalition” of nations to participate in this initiative.

Concretely, Russia would export its oil to them at a lower price than the one at which it sells it today, but which would remain higher than its cost of production so that it has an economic interest in continuing to supply it to them and that 'she doesn't cut her deliveries.

This article has been published automatically. Sources: ats / afp