Moscow has welcomed the idea of UN inspectors remaining at the Zaporozhye nuclear plant
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) plans on establishing a “permanent presence” at the Russian-controlled Zaporozhye nuclear plant. Moscow has repeatedly accused Kiev of shelling the nuclear facility.
IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi made his remarks on Wednesday at a press briefing in Kiev, before inspectors traveled to Zaporozhye.
The Zaporozhye facility is Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, and was seized by Russian troops several days after Moscow launched its military operation in Ukraine in February. As it continued to operate with local staff under Russian control, the facility has come under artillery and drone attacks, with Russia blaming Kiev for the strikes.
Ukraine has alternated between blaming Russia for the shelling, and accusing the Russian military of using the plant as cover for its soldiers. While the US has accused Russia of firing from the plant, a senior military official admitted on Monday that “there’s probably a likelihood” that Ukrainian forces have bombarded the nuclear facility.
Moscow insists that it does not keep heavy weapons, including artillery, stationed at the plant.
Grossi’s remarks were welcomed by Russia’s permanent representative to international organizations in Vienna, Mikhail Ulyanov. In a series of posts to Twitter, Ulyanov said that Moscow has supported the IAEA’s mission “from the very beginning,” and wished the inspectors “productive work on the site.”
Shortly before the IAEA delegation arrived at the plant, an official in the Russian-allied administration of Zaporozhye Region, Vladimir Rogov, said that a group of would-be saboteurs were arrested in the nearby city of Energodar. The suspected Ukrainian plotters were found with rifles, Western-made missile launchers, drones, and aerial photos of the nuclear plant, with Rogov claiming that they were planning a “series of terrorist attacks.”
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