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Kiev may stage provocation if IAEA goes to nuclear plant via Ukraine, local official says

According to Vladimir Rogov, should any provocation occur, Russia and Zaporozhye will be blamed

MELITOPOL, August 16. /TASS/. The Ukrainian side may stage a provocation if the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) mission travels to inspect the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant through the territory controlled by Kiev, a member of the main council of the Zaporozhye Region’s military-civilian administration Vladimir Rogov told TASS on Tuesday.

"Here the level of danger is high because this is a line of combat engagement and it must be understood that [Ukrainian President] Zelensky’s militants have vast experience in shooting people crossing this line," Vladimir Rogov noted. "I am afraid that a provocation may occur, and that this is precisely why Kiev began to consent [to the inspection by the IAEA] opting for a different strategy," he explained.

According to the official, should any provocation occur, Russia and Zaporozhye will be blamed. "Yet if these people are ready to take risks, they can go [via Kiev] but it must be understood that the responsibility for their safety until they cross the frontline, the line of combat engagement, until they get to the territories controlled by us will lie completely with them," he added.

He noted that the Zaporozhye Region’s authorities support the mission’s visit to the nuclear plant and are ready to ensure the utmost level of safety. "The visit of the IAEA delegation to the Zaporozhye NPP either via Kiev or through Melitopol or through Berdyansk is a major step forward, we are really looking forward to it and will definitely ensure the utmost level of security imaginable," the official stressed. "It does not matter which route the mission will take, the important part is that they get here," he stressed.

The official emphasized that the region has specialists trained to accompany major delegations "ranging from journalists to people with humanitarian missions," and there should not be any problems ensuring the delegation’s safety jointly with the Russian side.

The Zaporozhye nuclear plant in Energodar is controlled by Russian troops. Over the past few days, Ukrainian forces have delivered several strikes on the NPP’s premises, using, among other things, drones, heavy artillery and multiple-launch rocket systems. The majority of attacks have been deflected by air defense systems, however, shells hit some infrastructure facilities and the vicinity of a nuclear waste storage facility.