Ukraine and Moscow accuse each other of bombing Zaporizhia

Ukraine and Russia accused each other again Wednesday of bombing the area around the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant, which was to be inspected by a team from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

The IAEA mission arrived in the early afternoon in the town of Zaporijjia, some 120 kilometers from the plant, Agence France-Presse journalists noted.

“The Russian army is shelling Energodar,” said on Telegram Yevgen Yevtushenko, head of the administration of Nikopol, located across the Dnieper River from Energodar. “The situation is dangerous with these provocations,” he added.

Dmytro Orlov, a pro-Kiev mayor of Energodar, who is currently in exile, for his part, posted on Telegram images of the city’s town hall that show its damaged facade. The building is located several kilometers from the nuclear power plant.

Yevtushenko claimed that the Russians, who control Energodar and the power plant, shelled the town to blame Ukrainian forces, and to give the impression to the IAEA mission that it is Kiev that is shelling the area around the plant.

Ukrainian authorities also accuse Russia of deliberately bombing the area to prevent the IAEA team from reaching it.

In Moscow, the Russian Defense Ministry on Wednesday again accused Ukrainian forces of “provocations” aimed at “disrupting the work of the IAEA mission,” saying that one of the Ukrainian artillery bombardments had “hit” a “radioactive waste reprocessing building” at the complex on Tuesday.

Kiev and Moscow have accused each other for weeks of endangering the safety of the plant and risking a nuclear accident. Moscow denies any strike, explaining that it has no interest in bombing an area that its troops control.

👉You might appreciate  Return of the train on the right bank of the Rhône

The director of the IAEA, Rafael Grossi, left Kiev for Zaporijjia in the morning, after having congratulated himself in front of the press for finally being able, “after several months of effort”, to go and inspect the power station, including the interior.

The power plant, the largest in Europe, has been occupied by the Russian army since the beginning of March, after the invasion of Ukraine launched on February 24. Kiev has accused Moscow of deploying hundreds of soldiers and storing ammunition there.

“The IAEA is ready. We will report back after our mission. We will spend a few days there,” added the head of the UN agency, who is leading a team of 13 people.

The Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky, had received on Tuesday the IAEA experts, who arrived in Kiev on Monday, repeating on this occasion that the international community should obtain from Russia “an immediate demilitarization” of the power plant and the departure from the site “of all Russian military with all their explosives, all their weapons”.

“Unfortunately, Russia does not stop its provocations and maintains by its actions” the risk of a nuclear disaster, he said.

The Zaporizhia plant, one of four nuclear power plants operating in Ukraine, has six reactors with a capacity of 1,000 megawatts each.

Last week, it was briefly disconnected from the power grid for the first time in its history, after power lines were damaged.