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Ex-president barred from leaving Ukraine amid alleged plan to meet Hungarian PM

Former Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko (Piotr Molecki/AP)
Former Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko (Piotr Molecki/AP)

Former Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko was denied permission to leave Ukraine for a planned meeting with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, Ukraine’s security service has said.

Mr Poroshenko announced on Friday that he had been turned away at the border despite previously receiving permission from parliament to leave the country.

Under martial law, Ukrainian men between 18 and 60 years of age are not allowed to leave the country without special approval.

The 58-year-old, who lost his re-election bid in 2019 to current Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky, said he had planned to meet US House of Representatives Speaker Mike Johnson and visit the Polish parliament during his trip.

Viktor Orban
Prime Minister Viktor Orban of Hungary (Leon Neal/PA)

But security officials said that Mr Poroshenko had also agreed to meet Mr Orban, who has previously praised Russian President Vladimir Putin and refused to support Kyiv’s bid for EU accession.

In a statement on social media, they said such talks would make Mr Poroshenko a “tool in the hands of the Russian special services”.

Mr Poroshenko, who called his experience at the border an “attack on unity”, is yet to comment on the allegation that he planned to meet Mr Orban.

Meanwhile, Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant was left on “the verge of a nuclear and radiation accident” on Saturday after it was unable to draw power from two of the lines connecting it to the local energy grid, the country’s nuclear energy operator said.

It said that the plant switched to diesel generators to stop the plant from overheating before off-site power was restored by Kyiv.

Russia occupied the Zaporizhzhia plant in the early stages of the war.

Over the past year, the station has become a focal point of concern for international observers, with both Moscow and Kyiv accusing each other of shelling the plant.

In a statement on social media, Petro Kotin, head of Ukraine’s nuclear energy operator, accused Moscow of “incorrect, erroneous, and often deliberately risky operation of the equipment” at the site.

The Associated Press was unable to independently verify the claims.

Officials from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) have been monitoring safety at the Zaporizhzhia plant, which is one of the world’s 10 biggest nuclear power stations.

Although the plant’s six reactors have been shut down for months, it still needs power and qualified staff to operate crucial cooling systems and other safety features.

Elsewhere in Ukraine, Russia launched 11 Iranian-made Shahed drones and one guided cruise missile overnight Saturday, military officials said.

The missile and all but one of the drones were reportedly destroyed by Ukrainian air defences.

The Russian Defence Ministry also said that it had shot down two Ukrainian C-200 rockets over the Sea of Azov.