Tensions remain high over the status and fate of Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant — Europe’s largest such plant — with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy once again calling for international action to prevent a catastrophe at the Russian-occupied facility.
Russia’s Minister of Defense Sergei Shoigu said Monday that he spoke with U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres about the nuclear power plant and its safe operation of the facility in southern Ukraine, where fighting is intense.
Ukraine and Russia have accused each other of shelling the facility and surrounding areas in recent weeks, with both denying each other’s accusations.
Ukraine says Russia has used the plant, which it has occupied since early on in the invasion, to store military equipment and ammunition.
Some Russian officials claimed that U.N. officials were canceling or blocking visits from the International Atomic Energy Agency to the facility, but a U.N. spokesperson has denied that.
“First, the IAEA is a specialized agency that acts in full independence in deciding how to implement its specific mandate. Second, the U.N. Secretariat has no authority to block or cancel any IAEA activities,” wrote U.N. Secretary-General spokesperson Stephane Dujarric in a statement Monday.
Tensions remain high over the status and fate of Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant — Europe’s largest such plant — with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy once again calling for international action to prevent a catastrophe at the Russian-occupied facility in southern Ukraine.
“Any radiation incident at the Zaporizhzhya NPP could be a blow to many countries,” Zelenskyy said on Telegram last night. “Everything depends only on the direction and strength of the wind,” he added.
The president once again called for “new tough sanctions against Russia, against Rosatom [Russia’s state-owned nuclear power giant] and the entire nuclear industry” within the country.
Zelenskyy and other Ukrainian officials have repeatedly said Russia has stationed troops and weapons at the power plant, and used it as a base from which to launch attacks on surrounding areas. Ukraine has called that a strategy of “nuclear blackmail.”
“Russia does not stop its blackmail actions at Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant and around it,” Zelenskyy reiterated in his nightly address, saying “provocative shelling of the Nuclear power plant territory continues.
Under cover of the station, the occupiers are shelling nearby towns and communities. The Russian military hides ammunition and equipment right in the station’s facilities.”
Calling for Russian forces to withdraw from the nuclear power facility and surrounding areas without any conditions, Zelenskyy said the world should know by now the dangers of uncontrolled nuclear activity.
“For many decades, the world has struggled for proper control over all activities with nuclear materials and radiation safety.
And if now the world lacks the strength and determination to protect one nuclear plant, it means that the world will lose. There is still a chance to prevent this loss,” he said.