The Russian Defense Ministry said Saturday that Ukrainian forces attempted to capture the Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP) on Friday night.
The Defense Ministry said that Ukrainian vessels with a force of about 250 Ukrainian troops attempted to land on the shore of a lake near the plant, which is located in the southern city of Enerhodar.
The alleged operation came as inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) were stationed at the plant. “Despite the presence of representatives of the International Atomic Energy Agency at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, the Kyiv regime once again attempted to seize the plant,” the Russian Defense Ministry said, according to Reuters.
The comments from the Russian Defense Ministry were the second time Moscow accused Ukraine of attempting to capture the ZNPP. Russia said that it thwarted an attempt by 60 Ukrainian militants to capture the plant on Thursday morning when IAEA inspectors were on their way to the ZNPP. Russian-installed authorities in the region claimed the fighters were trained by the British intelligence agency MI6 as thousands of Ukrainian troops are being trained inside the UK.
The Russian claims about Ukraine’s attempt to capture the ZNPP aren’t confirmed, but the Ukrainian military did admit to shelling in areas around the plant in Enerhodar on Friday.
The confirmation of strikes in Enerhodar is a rare admission of military operations in the area. The ZNPP and the areas around it have been the site of frequent shelling, but Ukraine has tried to blame Russian forces for the attacks, even though the territory has been controlled by Russia since March.
Shelling continued in the area on Saturday despite the IAEA presence, resulting in the ZNPP losing its main connection to the power grid again. The plant is still connected to the power grid thanks to a reserve line. Russian-installed officials in the region said there was no shelling on the ZNPP on Sunday.
IAEA chief Rafael Grossi announced Friday that the nuclear watchdog is leaving two inspectors at the ZNPP to establish a permanent presence. “We are establishing a permanent presence on site, this time with two of our experts, which will be continuing the work,” he said.