A Moscow-installed official in the Russian-controlled Ukrainian Oblast of Zaporizhzhia on Monday accused Ukraine of shelling the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP) and areas around the plant, the Russian news agency Tass reported.
The official said that Ukraine launched 25 strikes using US-provided M777 howitzers that and that some hit the ZNPP and Energodar, the city where the facility is located. The claim hasn’t been confirmed, but the ZNPP has been the site of frequent shelling over the past few weeks.
Ukraine has accused Russia of shelling the ZNPP, but the plant and the territory around it have been controlled by Russian forces since March, giving Moscow little reason to attack the facility. The ZNPP is located on the southern shore of the Dnieper river, and Ukraine controls territory on the other side of the river. Russia insists Ukraine has been doing the shelling and has been calling for the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to send inspectors to the ZNPP.
UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Monday that the UN has the capability to support an IAEA delegation to the ZNPP. Dujarricsaid said that “in close contact with the IAEA, the UN Secretariat has assessed that it has in Ukraine the logistics and security capacity to be able to support any IAEA mission to the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant from Kyiv.”
Igor Vishnevetsky, the Russian Foreign Ministry’s top official for arms control, warned that an IAEA delegation traveling through Ukrainian-controlled territory would be dangerous. “In this case, anything could happen if the IAEA delegation went across the front line,” Vishnevetsky said.
Vishnevetsky said that Moscow had proposed the IAEA could travel through Russian-controlled territory under the protection of the Russian military. Russia had accused the UN of preventing the IAEA from visiting the ZNPP at an earlier date, a claim the UN rejected. “The UN Secretariat has no authority to block or cancel any IAEA activities,” Dujarric said.