Saturday 24, September 2022

Zelensky calls on UN to ensure security of nuclear plant

Time news Desk: Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky on Thursday called on the United Nations to ensure security at the Zaporizhzhia power plant, where increased fighting has raised fears of a nuclear incident.

‘The UN must ensure the security of this strategic object, its demilitarisation and complete liberation from Russian troops,’ Zelensky said in a statement after meeting UN chief Antonio Guterres in Lviv.

Zelensky praised the first visit to Ukraine since the start of the war by Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who helped broker a grain deal between Kyiv and Moscow.

‘The visit of the president of Turkey to Ukraine is a powerful message of support from such a powerful country,’ Zelensky said.

The Ukrainian leader also criticised ‘deliberate’ Russian attacks on the facility.

Ukraine and Russia have been accusing each other of targeting the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant — the biggest in Europe which Russia seized last March.

Tensions around the power plant have fuelled global fears of a nuclear disaster.

The two leaders also discussed grain exports, after a deal brokered by the UN and Turkey allowed their resumption this month.

Exports had been blocked following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

‘We agreed to continue the coordination of the grain initiative implementation. We also discussed the possible directions of its development,’ Zelensky said.

Zelensky and Guterres also spoke about deportations of Ukrainians to Russia, and about the release of military staff and medics taken prisoner by Russia, according to Zelensky.

Russian strikes battered the northeast Ukraine region of Kharkiv Thursday, killing at least five people.

Moscow meanwhile denied it had deployed any heavy weapons at the Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine where a recent escalation in fighting has increased fears of a nuclear disaster.

The head of the Kharkiv region Oleg Synegubov said Moscow’s forces had launched eight missiles from Russian territory at around 0430 local time (0130 GMT) striking across the city.

‘Three people died, including a child. Eight people, including two children, were rescued,’ the emergency services said.

Synegubov posted images from the scene of one strike showing the smouldering remains of several burnt out buildings and twisted wreckage of destroyed vehicles nearby.

In separate strikes on the town of Krasnograd south west of Kharkiv, bombardments that damaged residential buildings left two dead and two more injured, he said.

‘Kharkiv. 175 days of horror. Daily terror, missile strikes on residential areas and civilians,’ a senior presidential aide, Mykhaylo Podolyak, wrote on social media.

The strikes in the war-scarred east of the country come a day after bombardments killed at least seven in the city.

Russia’s defence ministry meanwhile said Thursday its forces had not deployed heavy weapons at the Zaporizhzhia plant, accusing Kyiv of preparing a ‘provocation’ at the station.

‘Russian troops have no heavy weapons either on the territory of the station or in areas around it. There are only guard units,’ the ministry said in a statement.

Zelensky touched on the Zaporizhzhia plant in his address on Wednesday, saying Ukrainian diplomats and scientists were in ‘constant touch’ with the International Atomic Energy Agency with the goal of sending a mission by the watchdog to the occupied nuclear facility.

‘The Russian army must withdraw from the territory of the nuclear power plant and all neighbouring areas, and take away its military equipment from the plant,’ he added. ‘This must happen without any conditions and as soon as possible.’

Earlier Wednesday, NATO secretary general Jens Stoltenberg said Russia’s seizure of the plant ‘poses a serious threat to the safety and the security of this facility and raises the risks of a nuclear accident or incident’.

Also calling for a Russian withdrawal and inspections by the IAEA, Stoltenberg accused Moscow of using ‘the ground around the nuclear power plant as a staging area, as a platform, to launch artillery attacks on Ukrainian forces, and this is reckless’.

Russian forces took the Zaporizhzhia plant, located in southern Ukraine, in March shortly after invading.

It is the largest in Europe, and the uncertainty surrounding it has fuelled fears of a nuclear accident to rival Chernobyl in 1986.

Russia and Ukraine have accused each other of shelling the Zaporizhzhia installation.


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