The invaders are using the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant as a shield against Ukrainian forces, the U.N. calls to tax oil companies, and the U.K. is facing a serious recession.
Meanwhile, the world’s leading specialists in military conflict are discussing the scandal surrounding Amnesty International, and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban urged the U.S. to negotiate with Russia.
Russian troops are using the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant as a shield
Russian forces are probably using the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant as a shield to deter Ukrainian attacks.
The invaders could have undermined the security of the facility with their actions, the U.K. Ministry of Defense reports on Twitter.
According to U.K. intelligence, the invaders are probably operating in the regions adjacent to the power station and have used artillery units based in these areas to target Ukrainian territory on the western bank of the Dnipro river.
The Russians also allegedly used the city of Enerhodar to rest their troops, knowing that the plant and the nearby territory could not be easily attacked without the risk of a nuclear disaster.
This was reported the next day after the IAEA head, Rafael Grossi, said that "a catalog of things that should never be happening in any nuclear facility" was taking place at the Zaporizhzhia plant, the BBC reminded.
There are credible reports that Russian forces are using the plant "as the equivalent of a nuclear shield, firing at Ukrainians from around the plant," said the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Bridget Brink.
Meanwhile, The Independent writes, citing an anonymous Western official, that the Zaporizhzhia power plant functions safely and that the situation isn’t as dire as it’s being painted in the media at the moment.
The UN called for imposing taxes on oil companies
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has called for oil and gas companies to face special taxes, BBS writes.
The latest surge in energy prices caused by the war in Ukraine is pushing industry profits to new highs, the media notes. Mr. Guterres believes that it’s "immoral" for firms to be profiting from the crisis.
BP recently reported its largest profit in 14 years, while Shell's profits in the April-to-June period hit a record.
Together, four of the biggest energy firms — Exxon, Chevron, Shell, and TotalEnergies — earned nearly $51 billion in the most recent quarter — almost double what they made in the same period of 2021.
"This grotesque greed is punishing the poorest and most vulnerable people, while destroying our only common home," Mr. Guterres said. "I urge all governments to tax these excessive profits, and use the funds to support the most vulnerable people through these difficult times."
The UK has approved a 25% "windfall tax" on energy firms, a one-off levy to help offset household energy bills. Similar measures have been imposed by Italy, while in France, such a move was rejected. The U.S. Congress also lacks votes for it.
The U.K. falls into recession
The U.K. will fall into recession as it raised interest rates by the most in 27 years, the Bank of England warned, as quoted by the BBC. Interest rates rose to 1.75% as the Bank battles to stem soaring prices, with inflation now set to hit over 13%.
The main reason is soaring energy bills, driven by Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Households have also been hit by higher petrol and diesel costs and food prices.
The expected recession would be the longest downturn since 2008, when the U.K. banking system faced collapse, bringing lending to a halt.
Although increasing interest rates is one way to try and control inflation, many households will be squeezed further, including some mortgage-holders. The Brits will also face higher charges on credit cards, bank loans, and car loans.
Uproar around Amnesty: Ukraine couldn’t avoid urban warfare
Western media also focused their attention on the uproar around Amnesty International, which claimed on August 4 that the Ukrainian army was endangering the lives of civilians by basing themselves in residential areas.
"Ukrainian forces have put civilians in harm’s way by establishing bases and operating weapons systems in populated residential areas," the organization reported on Twitter.
These statements enraged the Ukrainians, and numerous comments appeared on social media arguing that Amnesty’s allegations are blaming the victim that defends itself and can be compared to blaming a victim of rape.
President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that Amnesty International "has tried to amnesty the terrorist state and shift the responsibility from the aggressor to the victim."
For his part, Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said that these actions had drawn a false moral equivalence between the aggressor and the victim.
Later, the head of Amnesty Ukraine’s office, Oksana Pokalchuk, wrote that the Kyiv office wasn’t involved in the preparation of the report and tried to prevent it from being published. Meanwhile, Agnes Callamard, the director of the central office, wrote that the uproar on social media comes from "mobs and trolls."
"Apparently, Amnesty’s Secretary General calls me a "mob" and a "troll", but this won’t stop me from saying that its report distorts reality. This is fake "neutrality", not truthfulness," responded Kuleba.
Guardian reporters have seen at least seven instances in three regions of Ukraine where schools and nurseries in residential areas were used as bases by the Ukrainian army, The Guardian commented on the scandal.
There were also instances of schools being used as humanitarian aid centers or as residences for temporarily displaced people by the war.
Nevertheless, according to Steven Haines, professor of public international law at London’s University of Greenwich, Ukraine’s actions had not necessarily broken the rules of war.
The professor personally drafted non-legally binding guidelines on military use of schools and universities during conflicts, which 100 states, including Ukraine, have endorsed.
"The use of schools — if they are not also being used for their primary purpose — is not invariably unlawful. Very obviously, the situation in Ukraine counts as exceptional in this respect," he said.
Haines said that it was the responsibility of military commanders on the ground to avoid collateral damage, but the nature of the invasion meant city warfare had become inevitable in Ukraine.
Orban suggests that the U.S. begin negotiations with the Kremlin
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban criticized the U.S. response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine as meek, The New York Times writes.
The politician believes that the U.S. President should be doing more to negotiate a peace deal with Russia.
Speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Dallas, Texas, Mr. Orban didn’t condemn Russian President Vladimir Putin for invading Ukraine and for war crimes committed by Russian troops. Instead, he suggested the United States, which has armed Ukraine, had not done enough to bring a quick end to the war. Mr. Orban said the fighting in Ukraine had caused more than 1 million refugees to flood into Hungary.
"Without American-Russian talks, there will never be peace in Ukraine," claimed Orban.