Ukrainian UN secretary general says he feels uneasy about situation at frontline nuclear power plants (update 1)

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Thursday that he was deeply concerned about the situation at Europe’s largest nuclear power plant after being hit by shelling on the front lines in Ukraine.

Russia, which occupied the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant shortly after the February 24 invasion of Ukraine, said it could shut down the facility.

Guterres told reporters after meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in the western city of Lviv that military equipment and personnel should be removed from the factory.

“This facility must not be used as part of a military operation. Instead, we urgently need an agreement to rebuild a purely civilian infrastructure in Zaporizhia and ensure the security of the region,” he said. said.

Moscow has previously rejected international demands for a demilitarized zone around the factory as “unacceptable”, and the factory is still run by Ukrainian engineers under Russian occupation.

The power plant is located on the southern bank of a huge Russian-controlled reservoir. Ukrainian forces occupying the north bank. Recently, there have been several cases of shelling in factories, and both sides have blamed each other.

Ukraine also accuses Russia of using the factory as a shield to launch attacks across reservoirs in Ukrainian-controlled cities, a charge Moscow denies.

Reuters cannot independently verify the local military situation or responsibility for the shelling.

Zelensky said he had agreed on parameters for a possible International Atomic Energy Agency mission after meeting with Guterres on Thursday.

“Russia should immediately and unconditionally withdraw its troops from the territory of the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant and cease all provocations and shelling,” he said.

Earlier he accused Russia of a “nuclear threat”.


“Radiation disaster”

In Moscow, the defense ministry said it could close factories if Russia came under further attacks.

Ukrainian officials have accused Russia of planning to shut down the power plant, disconnect it from the Ukrainian grid, and replace it with the Russian grid.

Ukraine’s state-owned nuclear power company Energoatom said the shutdown would increase the risk of “a radiation disaster at Europe’s largest nuclear power plant”.

Disconnecting the complex’s generators from the Ukrainian power grid would prevent them from being used to cool nuclear fuel in the event of a power outage at the plant, it said.

Shutting down a nuclear power plant is a complex task that must stop the nuclear chain reaction while preventing the fuel from heating up and causing a meltdown.

Both the Russian Defense Ministry and Ukraine’s main intelligence agency have accused the other side of planning some form of incident at the nuclear power plant as a “provocation” to take place during President Guterres’ visit.


Consultation on Conflict Termination

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan also said he attended talks with Guterres and Zelensky in Lviv, after which they discussed ways to end the conflict.

Erdogan said they had discussed using the positive atmosphere created by the deal brokered by the United Nations and Turkey to lift Russia’s blockade on Ukrainian grain exports. It will revive the peace talks held in Istanbul in March.

As a NATO member, Turkey maintains good relations with its important trading partner Russia, trying to mediate the six-month dispute.

“Personally, I believe the war will eventually end at the negotiating table. On this point, Mr. Zelensky and Mr. Guterres have the same opinion,” Erdogan said.

He also said he had discussed the exchange of prisoners of war between Ukraine and Russia, and said he would later raise the issue with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Relatives of Ukrainian troops who surrendered under a UN-backed agreement at the Azokhstan steel plant in Mariupol demonstrated during President Guterres’ visit, calling for more efforts to protect them.

Dozens of Azokhstan prisoners died last month in a violent blast at a prison held by Russian-backed separatists, which Kyiv called a massacre and a war crime. Moscow accused Ukraine of firing rockets at the prison, but did not explain why the guards were not injured.

The Ukrainian front has been relatively static in recent weeks, after months of modest territorial gains by Russian forces in heavy fighting in the east.

Kyiv says it is preparing a counteroffensive to retake a swath of southern territory, including Kherson province and neighboring Zaporizhia, where a nuclear power plant is located.

War has killed thousands and displaced millions. Moscow says its aim is to demilitarize Ukraine and protect Russian-speaking peoples on land that Putin historically claims belongs to Russia.

Kyiv and the West call it a one-sided war to conquer Ukraine and erase its thousand-year-old national identity. Ukrainian UN secretary general says he feels uneasy about situation at frontline nuclear power plants (update 1)

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