Ukraine and Russia exchange accusations over Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant

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Ukraine and Russia on Friday exchanged accusations over each other’s actions around the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, as a team of UN inspectors tried to check the facility’s safety and avoid a potential disaster.

Ukraine said the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) was not allowed to enter the power plant’s crisis center, where the country says Russian troops are stationed, and it would struggle to make an impartial assessment.

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Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said Ukraine continued to bomb the plant, increasing the risk of a nuclear catastrophe.

The site, 10 km from Ukrainian positions across the Dnipro River, was captured by Russian forces shortly after the invasion in late February and has become a focus of concern.

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The plant has suffered repeated bombings in the past month, with Kiev and Moscow trading blame for the attacks. The site is still managed by Ukrainian officials and Russia has rejected requests to withdraw its troops.

IAEA chief Rafael Grossi and his team spent several hours at Europe’s largest nuclear power plant on Thursday and returned to the front lines today to assess the damage.

Speaking after the initial visit, Grossi said the plant’s physical integrity had been violated several times and he was concerned about the situation there.

Ukraine’s state-owned nuclear company Energoatom stated that it would be difficult for the IAEA team to make an impartial assessment due to Russian interference.

“The Russians did not allow the mission to enter the crisis center, where the Russian military is currently stationed, which IAEA representatives were not supposed to see,” Energoatom said in a statement.

“The (Russian) occupiers lie, distort the facts and evidence they witness to the bombing of the plant, as well as the consequences of the damage to infrastructure,” he said.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said the mission may still have a role to play despite the difficulties encountered.

“Unfortunately, we have not heard the main thrust of the IAEA, which is the request that Russia demilitarize the station,” Zelensky said in a video broadcast to a forum in Italy.

Source: CNN Brasil

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