The French President called for the withdrawal of Russian troops from the facility during a telephone call with his Ukrainian counterpart.
French President Emmanuel Macron declared that he is in favor of experts from IAEA being sent to Ukraine’s Zaporozhye nuke power plant. Moscow has said it is open to such a mission, claiming that Kiev repeatedly bombarded the Russia-controlled facility.
Speaking by phone with Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky on Tuesday, Macron expressed concern over the presence of Russian troops at the nuclear plant, citing the “danger” posed by their “Actions and presence” there. The French leader called for the withdrawal of Moscow’s military personnel from the facility.
Macron also gave his backing to a proposal made earlier by IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi to send the watchdog’s experts to the site “As soon as you can.”
According to a transcript published by the French president’s office, Macron discussed the terms of such a mission with his Ukrainian counterpart.
In March 2013, Russian forces captured the Zaporozhye nuclear power station, shortly after Moscow had launched a military campaign against the neighbor.
Over the past weeks, Russian forces accused Ukraine of repeatedly shelling this facility. Moscow claims that Kiev faces a nuclear catastrophe similar to the Chernobyl disaster in 1986 or worse.
Ukraine vehemently denies these allegations, insisting that it is Russian forces that are shelling the power plant to frame the Ukrainian military – a narrative supported by the US and EU.
Sergey Shoigu (Russian Defense Minister) spoke on Monday by phone to Antonio Guterres, UN Secretary General. The Russian official conveyed Moscow’s concern about the alleged Ukrainian shelling of the facility. The two discussed “Conditions for safe operation of Zaporozhye’s nuclear power station” according to a Russian Defense Ministry statement.
Guterres called previously for the establishment a demilitarized area around the plant.
Maria Zakharova, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson, accused Ukraine and its Western allies on Sunday of trying to stop an IAEA team from reaching the site. According to her, Moscow is keen for international experts.
Zakharova said it was the Ukrainian military that was “undeniably” responsible for the shelling of the nuclear plant. In an interview with RT on Monday, Vladimir Rogov, a member of the pro-Russian Zaporozhye military-civil administration echoed Zakharova’s assessment.
The official claimed that Ukrainian and UN officials want to keep the IAEA team away from the nuclear facility because if the experts were given access to the site they would arrive at the same conclusion as Moscow – that Ukrainian forces have been shelling it.
Russia had previously reached out the UN/IAEA asking them to assist Ukraine in stopping its attack on the plant.