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Ukraine round-up: UN nuclear safety call and Russia ‘gets North Korean arms’

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    1 day ago

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Image source, Reuters

The UN’s nuclear agency says a security zone should be set up immediately to protect the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) issued dire warnings in its first report since its inspectors gained access to the plant – including that shelling could lead to “unlimited release” of radioactive materials.

It also said Russian military equipment on-site could undermine the security of Europe’s biggest nuclear plant.

In its interim report, inspectors called for an immediate halt to fighting in the area.

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The UN team said they had seen some building damage but there was no immediate concern about nuclear material going missing.

The report praised Ukrainian staff for keeping the plant going, but they said the high stress those staff are under could increase the risk of human error.

Both Ukraine and Russia have accused each other of targeting the nuclear site for months.

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North Korea ‘supplying arms to Russia’

Russian operators firing missiles during the Ukraine conflict

Image source, Russian defence ministry

US officials say that Russia is being forced to buy military equipment from North Korea as sanctions bite, squeezing Moscow’s ability to supply its military.

Russia is buying up millions of rockets and artillery shells from Pyongyang, a US official has said, for use in the war in Ukraine.

And Moscow could be forced to buy additional North Korean weaponry as the fighting drags on.

Ukraine’s defence ministry tweeted a mocking response to the report – first carried by the New York Times – saying that it showed “Soviet weapons” had “exhausted their potential”.

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Ben Stiller and Sean Penn banned from Russia

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US actors Ben Stiller and Sean Penn are the latest to be added to Russia’s “stop list” meaning they’re banned from entering the country.

They join a bunch of big names, including fellow Hollywood star Morgan Freeman, US President Joe Biden and outgoing UK PM Boris Johnson.

Russia and some Western nations have been exchanging rounds of sanctions – such as oligarchs linked to Vladimir Putin being issued with similar travel bans in the West.

Stiller and Penn have been outspoken critics of Russia’s invasion.

Stiller – who’s a goodwill ambassador for the UN refugee agency – called President Volodymyr Zelensky “my hero”, when he met him on a trip to Ukraine in June.

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Russian citizens to pay €45 more for EU visas

A customs officer checks a Russian car at the border with Finland in July

Image source, Getty Images

Meanwhile, the EU is continuing to act against Russia in response to the war – now planning to make it harder and more expensive for Russian citizens to enter the EU.

Under new proposals, Russian citizens face a lengthier application process which will see fees rise from €35 (£30; $34) to €80 (£69; $79).

The EU says this will continue as long as Moscow wages its war of aggression.

The proposals will undo an existing visa agreement with Moscow, which for 15 years had streamlined the visa process for Russians.

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