Russia has called for the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to send inspectors to the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP), a facility that Russia has controlled since March.
“We believe that the IAEA should not delay the visit. It would be good if it is held in late August or early September, but not all things depend on us,” Mikhail Ulyanov, Russia’s envoy in Vienna, said on Saturday, according to the Russian news agency Tass.
In recent weeks, the ZNPP has come under frequent shelling, and Ukraine is blaming Russia for the attack even though the facility is under Russian control. Moscow denies the accusation and says Ukraine is attacking the plant. Ulyanov said that an IAEA inspection will show who is responsible for the shelling.
So far, IAEA officials haven’t blamed either Ukraine or Russia for the attacks on the plant. “The agency refrains from naming those responsible, partially due to the fact that none of its representatives is present at the station,” Ulyanov said. He added that a visit to the plant would give IAEA inspectors “a chance to see what is really happening there with their own eyes.”
On Sunday, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova accused Western countries of delaying an IAEA visit to the plant. She said Russia was “sparing no effort” to arrange an IAEA inspection while Ukraine and the West were “doing their utmost not to let it happen.”
Russia’s military has controlled the ZNPP since March, but the plant is still being run by Ukrainian operators, and it has been fully running throughout the war. While Ukraine is accusing Russia of firing on the plant, Kyiv is also accusing Russia of launching attacks from its grounds.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Saturday that Ukraine would target Russian troops at the ZNPP. “Every Russian soldier who either shoots at the plant, or shoots using the plant as cover, must understand that he becomes a special target for our intelligence agents, for our special services, for our army,” he said.
Zelensky is using the crisis over the ZNPP to call for new sanctions on Russia. He said new sanctions should be implemented that would “necessarily block the Russian nuclear industry.”
The ZNPP is located on the southern shore of the Dnieper river in the Zaporizhzhia Oblast, which is under Russian control. Ukraine controls territory on the other side of the river, and the area has seen recent shelling from both sides.