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Russia urges West to stop glossing over Kiev’s attacks on Zaporozhye NPP - diplomat

Mikhail Ulyanov warned of "risks of a real disaster," adding that the issue "must not be politicized"

VIENNA, September 29. /TASS/. Russia is calling upon Western nations to stop glossing over Kiev’s hazardous attacks on the Russian-controlled Zaporozhye nuclear power plant, a high-ranking Russian diplomat said on Thursday.

"Russia is calling upon Western nations to exert their influence for the shelling attacks to stop, and we also call upon - strongly call upon - the Ukrainian side to cease its shelling," Russian Permanent Representative to the International Organizations in Vienna Mikhail Ulyanov told the 66th session of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) General Conference.

The Russian diplomat also warned of "risks of a real disaster," adding that the issue "must not be politicized."

"Despite our profound disagreements, we should call things for what they are. And, of course, one should avoid glossing over the Ukrainian side’s hazardous actions regarding the ZNPP. This attitude, demonstrated by our Western partners and our former partners, is totally irresponsible and can lead to very serious consequences," he said.

The diplomat went on to say that a number of nations, who accused Russia of hostile actions at nuclear facilities in Ukraine were unable to present "coherent evidence" to support their claims to the IAEA Board of Governors.

"I think that many of those present in this hall have no doubts that the attacks involving artillery, multiple-launch rocket systems and drones are carried out by Ukrainian troops. However, no one has the nerve to admit it publicly, and this encourages Ukraine to continue its attacks," he continued.

Russia’s commitment to nuclear safety

At the same time, the Russian envoy stressed that Moscow was fully committed to the plant’s safety and security and was ready to work on establishing a security perimeter around it.

"We fully share the ultimate goal of the director general’s proposal, which is to prevent a possible nuclear disaster. And we fully support the idea that a nuclear power plant must never become a target of an attack, or a staging area for an attack," he said.

"Calls were made in this hall to demilitarize the station or to create some sort of a demilitarized zone around it. We have already told the Board of Governors that those demands are unrealistic. One cannot demilitarize something that has never been militarized in the first place," he said.

Ulyanov explained that no heavy weapons have ever been deployed at the station, adding that the facility is protected by members of the Russian National Guard, who are there only to protect the station and do not engage in any combat actions whatsoever. Besides, a number of military specialists in radiation protection are also present at the facility to cope with possible emergencies caused by Ukrainian shelling.

Security zone

IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi met with Rosatom CEO Alexey Likhachev on the sidelines of the 66th IAEA annual session on Monday to discuss plans of establishing a protection zone around the Zaporozhye NPP. In the IAEA chief’s opinion, a Nuclear Safety and Security Protection Zone (NSSPZ) at the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant is "a necessary step towards reducing the risk of a nuclear accident." Grossi also declared his readiness to continue consultations on the issue with Russia and Ukraine.

On September 21, Grossi said that he had held a number of meetings on the sidelines of the 77th session of the UN General Assembly, including with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Ukrainian top diplomat Dmitry Kuleba and French President Emmanuel Macron to discuss the creation of a safety and security zone around the nuclear plant. He also met with Ukrainian Prime Minister Denis Shmygal and EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell. Additionally, the IAEA secretary general reported that the agency was planning to expand its mission to the Zaporozhye nuclear plant in the near future.

Zaporozhye NPP, Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, is located in the city of Energodar. Russian forces took control of the plant in March 2022. Since then, Ukrainian troops occasionally shell Energodar’s residential neighborhoods and the power plant itself, using drones, heavy artillery and multiple-launch rocket systems.

In early September, an IAEA mission led by Director General Rafael Grossi visited the station. Later, the Agency published a report calling for the establishment of a protection zone around the power plant in order to prevent a nuclear disaster caused by the ongoing hostilities.