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12 Sep, 2022 14:47

Russia won’t withdraw from Zaporozhye nuclear site – Kremlin

Ukraine’s Western backers must persuade Kiev to stop shelling the plant, Dmitry Peskov says
Russia won’t withdraw from Zaporozhye nuclear site – Kremlin

Russia has no plans to remove its troops from the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant, where they are guarding the facility, Kremlin Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov has told reporters.

“Now, there’s no discussion about the withdrawal of troops” from the Zaporozhye nuclear site, Peskov said during a press briefing on Monday. “The discussion is about forcing the Ukrainian side to stop the barbaric shelling of the facilities on the territory of the plant, which could lead to sad and catastrophic consequences.”

President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman addressed the issue after the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) announced on Sunday that consultations had started “to establish a nuclear and physical security zone” around the Zaporozhye plant.

Russia is again urging “countries, which have influence on the Ukrainian side,” to use that influence “to make this shelling that continues on a daily basis, stop,” he said.

The Zaporozhye nuclear facility, which is the largest in Europe, has been under Russian control since March, but is still operated by Ukrainian staff.

The facility and the nearby town of Energodar have come under repeated missile and artillery strikes in recent weeks, which Moscow has blamed on Kiev. It also said that the Russian forces have repelled several attempts to retake the plant by Ukrainian saboteurs.

Moscow has warned that the continued shelling of the nuclear site could cause a disaster that would eclipse the 1986 Chernobyl incident and affect many countries in Europe.

Ukraine claims that Russia has turned the plant into a military base and that it’s striking it itself in order to pin the blame on Kiev. The Russian authorities have denied those accusations.

After repeated calls by Moscow, a team of IAEA inspectors visited the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant in early September. The UN nuclear watchdog has demanded that all attacks on the plant “be stopped immediately,” but refrained from identifying the party responsible for the shelling.

On Sunday, the last working reactor out of six at the facility was shut down for security reasons. Vladimir Rogov, a member of the Zaporozhye Region administration, said the plant could be restarted after the contact line between the Russian and Ukrainian forces is moved further away from it and the power liner that had been damaged by strikers are repaired.