Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy told the head of the UN nuclear watchdog agency on Monday (Mar 27) that safety at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station could not be guaranteed until Russian troops left the facility.
The president, quoted by his website, said he met Rafael Grossi, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, at the Dnipro hydroelectric power station – northeast of the Zaporizhzhia plant.
Russian troops occupied the Zaporizhzhia plant, Europe’s largest nuclear power station, in the early weeks of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine and each side has repeatedly accused the other of shelling the facility.
Zelenskyy was quoted as telling Grossi that staff at the Zaporizhzhia plant were under constant pressure from Russian occupying forces, who he said were failing to uphold safety rules and interfering in technological processes.
“Without an immediate withdrawal of Russian troops and staff from the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station and adjacent areas, any initiatives on restoring nuclear safety and security are doomed to failure,” the presidential website quoted Zelenskyy as saying.
It said Zelenskyy also told Grossi about problems caused by Russian attacks at the Dnipro hydro plant and said Grossi’s role in upholding energy security in Ukraine was “extraordinarily important”.
Zelenskyy met troops in southeastern Ukraine during a tour of the region. His website said he also visited the town of Nikopol, on the opposite side of the Kakhovka reservoir from the Zaporizhzhia power station and subject to repeated Russian shelling.
In a tweet issued earlier on Monday, Grossi said he and Zelenskyy had a “rich exchange” on the protection of the plant and its staff. He added that he reiterated the IAEA’s full support for Ukraine’s nuclear facilities.
Grossi has repeatedly called for a safety zone around the Zaporizhzhia plant and is due to visit it again this week.