Ukraine: IAEA decides on the Zaporizhia power plant
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is due to report on Tuesday on the situation of the Ukrainian nuclear power plant in Zaporijjia, occupied by Russian forces, disconnected since Monday evening and which has posed a radiological risk for months.
“On Tuesday, Rafael Grossi will publish a report on the situation in terms of safety, security and guarantees in Ukraine including in particular the findings of his mission to Zaporizhia and he will report to the UN Security Council on the mission carried out at the plant” , tweeted the IAEA on Monday evening, referring to its director general.
“I hope it will be objective,” President Volodymyr Zelensky said Monday evening about the report.
Its publication comes the day after the disconnection of the last reactor in operation at the plant, located in the south of the country.
This line, connected to a nearby thermal power station, “was deliberately disconnected in order to extinguish a fire”, explained the IAEA in a press release. But “it was not damaged”, and it should be reconnected as soon as possible.
According to the Ukrainian operator Energoatom, the fire “started because of the bombardments”.
“Once again – this is the second time – because of Russian provocations, the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant has been on the brink of a radiological disaster”, denounced President Zelensky.
– “Physical integrity” –
The site of Europe’s largest power plant has been bombed several times, raising fears of a nuclear disaster. For several weeks, Russians and Ukrainians have accused each other of these bombardments.
After much negotiation, a delegation from the UN agency was able to go last Thursday to the site of this power plant, which has six reactors with a capacity of 1,000 megawatts each and which fell into the hands of Russian troops in March, shortly after the launch of the invasion of Ukraine.
After an inspection with his team, Mr. Grossi told the press that he had found that the “physical integrity” of the plant had been “violated on several occasions”. It is “something that cannot continue to happen”, he added, without naming the responsible party.
The next day, kyiv said it had hit a Russian base in Energodar, a town near the plant, from where it accuses Russia of having withdrawn its weapons before its inspection by the delegation of the UN agency.
Most of the IAEA team left the plant on Friday. Of the six experts who remained on site, four left on Monday morning and two others are expected to stay there permanently.
On the diplomatic side, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had offered his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin his mediation on Saturday. Emmanuel Macron reaffirmed on Monday “the imperative need to preserve the safety” of nuclear installations in Ukraine, during an interview with Mr. Zelensky, according to the French presidency.
– Referendum postponed –
On the ground, kyiv has claimed successes in its counter-offensive on the southern front by striking deep into Russian army logistics in the Kherson region, occupied since March. Moscow, for its part, ensures that it inflicts heavy losses on its opponent.
On Sunday, a Russian ammunition depot was destroyed, according to the Ukrainian army, in Tomyna Balka, a town west of Kherson, as was a pontoon bridge near the village of Lvové and a Russian army control center in southeast of Kherson.
Mr. Zelensky had for his part announced Sunday evening the resumption of “two localities in the South” and one in the East, without specifying their names.
As for Ukrainian military intelligence (GUR), it assured on Monday that it had destroyed in the Zaporijjia region a depot where ballot papers for the “referendum” of annexation to Russia wanted by Moscow were stored.
Precisely, “we were prepared for the vote, we wanted to organize the referendum very soon, but because of the events of the moment, I believe that we are going to take a break”, declared Monday on Russian public television Kirill Stremooussov, deputy head of the occupation administration of Kherson and Zaporizhia regions.
Shortly after, he tempered his comments on Telegram by returning to the term “pause”, but noting that “everything is not going as fast” as expected. According to him, “the referendum will take place whatever happens”, but the date cannot be fixed.
For weeks, the occupation administration has said it was preparing “referendums” to attach these regions to Russia this fall, a scenario already implemented in 2014 during the annexation of Crimea.
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