UN assembles team for Zaporozhye nuclear plant – NYT
The UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has cobbled together a team of independent experts to visit Ukraine’s Zaporozhye nuclear power plant, which is now under Russia’s control, the New York Times reported on Saturday. The plant and the nearby city of Energodar have been repeatedly shelled by Kiev’s forces in recent weeks.
According to the outlet, the delegation includes Rafael Mariano Grossi, the IAEA chief, and 13 other experts from “mostly neutral countries.” The report also reveals that neither the US nor Britain have any representatives on the team, given that Russia had dismissed those countries as “unfairly biased” over their support for the government in Kiev.
The NYT claims the IAEA mission includes experts from Poland and Lithuania, countries that support Ukraine, but also from Serbia and China, which have much warmer relations with Russia. Delegation members also come from Albania, France, Italy, Jordan, Mexico, and North Macedonia.
The goal of the mission, according to Grossi, is to see what exactly is happening at the plant, assess its integrity, speak to both Russian and Ukrainian staff there, and establish a permanent presence on the ground.
The move follows a phone call between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron last week, during which the two leaders agreed on dispatching an international mission to the area “as soon as possible.”
The team will apparently travel on terms arranged by Ukraine and the United Nations, which means the experts will arrive at Zaporozhye via territory currently controlled by Kiev’s forces. Moscow had previously insisted that such a mission should arrive only via Russian-controlled territory.
Moscow has repeatedly accused Ukrainian forces of attacking the nuclear plant, while warning that the shelling could trigger a disaster that would eclipse the 1986 Chernobyl incident. At the same time, Kiev insists that it is Russian forces who are shelling the site while stationing military hardware there.