Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has called on the world’s nuclear watchdog to force Russia to demilitarize the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant – and return its control to Ukraine.
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) officials visited the facility last week and warned there was an “urgent need” for interim measures to prevent a nuclear accident at the plant.
He called for the creation of a nuclear security safety and protection zone around the facility, after expressing fears over physical damage to the plant from the bombings.
And in his nightly address to his nation on Tuesday, President Zelensky said that since Russia had “brought the world to the brink of radioactive catastrophe”, it was up to “the world” to put in place “appropriate measures” to ensure that Russia “will be forced to stop terrorism” .
He continued: “I believe that the world not only deserves but needs the representatives of the IAEA to force Russia to demilitarize the territory of the ZNPP (Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant) and return full control to Ukraine. “
The IAEA team said it saw first-hand damage to the road surface, walls and windows of various buildings at the plant, as well as the viaduct connecting the reactors.
The bombing could have caused “significant security impacts, loss of life and injury to personnel”, according to his report in their findings.
He warned that the situation presented an “ongoing threat to nuclear safety and security” as critical safety functions could be affected.
Antonio Guterres, UN The general secretary, bluntly, said he was “seriously concerned” about the situation, saying it could be a “catastrophe”.
“Let’s put it as it is: any damage, intentional or not, to Europe’s largest nuclear power plant in Zaporizhzhia or any other nuclear facility in Ukraine could be catastrophic, not only for the immediate vicinity, but for the region and beyond.
“All measures must be taken to avoid such a scenario.”
Radiation levels in the area currently remain normal.
Russia has occupied the plant for months and has been accused of storing military equipment inside the facility.
Russia and Ukraine have also swapped responsibility for the bombings that have damaged the plant in recent weeks.
President Zelenskyy previously spoke with the new British Prime Minister Liz Truss.
In her first call with a foreign leader, she accepted an invitation to visit Ukraine and reiterated her support for the country in its war against Russia.
The UK has been one of Ukraine’s most vocal international backers, sending nearly 7,000 anti-tank weapons, hundreds of missiles and armored fighting vehicles. It also trains Ukrainian soldiers.
According to an official reading of the call, Ms Truss said she “looked forward to working with the President in the weeks and months to come”, and he thanked the UK for “major defense and economic aid”, while reiterating “it is important that Britain is ready to strengthen it further”.
“Europe is not the place of murderers”
The Ukrainian president also took advantage of his speech to urge Europe to stop issuing visas to Russian citizens.
In reference to the Novichok poisonings of the Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury in 2018, he recalled that “more than once Russia has sent killers to Europe under the guise of mere tourists.
“They’ve seen enough at the Salisbury spire, on the streets of Germany and in the arms depots in the Czech Republic. Enough! Europe is no place for murderers to roam.”