Russia and Ukraine are interested in a protection zone around a nuclear power plant


Ukraine and Russia have expressed interest in a proposal put forward by the UN nuclear watchdog to create a protection zone around the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, its chief Rafael Grossi said. .

The two countries are engaging with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and asking many questions about the idea, which aims to prevent military activities, such as the bombings that damaged power lines in the factory and jeopardized its safety, Grossi told a press conference in Vienna on September 12.

Russia took control of the nuclear power plant shortly after Russian President Vladimir Putin launched his country’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine on February 24.

Grossi’s comments come a day after Enerhoatom, the Ukrainian state-owned company responsible for the plant, said its last operating reactor had been shut down as a safety measure.

The IAEA said a backup power line to the plant had been restored, providing the external electricity it needed to carry out the shutdown while protecting against the risk of collapse.

On September 7, Ukrainian authorities urged residents of areas around the plant controlled by invading Russian forces to evacuate for their own safety.

French President Emmanuel Macron told Russian President Vladimir Putin in a September 11 phone call that the occupation of the factory by Russian troops was the reason its security had been compromised, the French presidency said. Putin blamed Ukrainian forces, according to a Kremlin statement.

Fighting around the plant, Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, has raised fears of a potential nuclear disaster.

Russia has accused Ukraine of trying to take over the plant by force, which Kyiv denies.

Ukraine and the West accuse Russia of deploying heavy weapons at the site, knowing that Ukraine was unlikely to fire on it. Moscow denies the claims but has resisted efforts to demilitarize the region to avert an environmental catastrophe.

Information from AFP, AP and Reuters was used in this report.

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