French President Emmanuel Macron urged Russia to remove “heavy and light” weapons from around the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant during a “frank exchange” with President Vladimir Putin on Sunday.
The pair spoke out after the last operational unit at the Russian-occupied facility was safely shut down – a reminder, for now, of the “precarious” level of danger cited by the US atomic agency on Friday. ‘UN.
Macron “insisted on the need to ensure security” at the factory, according to a reading from his office. “He repeated that the Russian occupation was the cause of the risks” surrounding Zaporizhzhia, the largest nuclear power plant in Europe.
Russia’s war against Ukraine marks the first time a military conflict has taken place over an operating nuclear power plant. Hundreds of Russian soldiers use the surrounding area as a base.
Kyiv and Moscow continue to trade blame on the forces that shelled the area around the plant. Putin on Sunday repeated Russia’s claim that Ukrainian forces are responsible, according to a Kremlin reading.
Putin “has drawn attention to regular Ukrainian attacks on” factory facilities, “which are fraught with catastrophic consequences,” the Kremlin said.
Macron intends to meet again with Putin in the coming days – as well as with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and Rafael Mariano Grossi, head of the UN nuclear agency – with the aim of reaching a agreement on security guarantees, his office said.
Early Sunday, Ukrainian Energoatom, operator of the plant in the southeast of the country, said that the No. 6 generator in Zaporizhizhia would be cooled and preserved.
The International Atomic Energy Agency on Friday called the situation at the plant a disaster after layers of safety backup systems were rendered ineffective by a power outage.
On Saturday, several transmission lines destroyed by recent shelling were restored. Energoatom used energy from the national grid to cool the unit and put it in the safest mode possible.
Energoatom said it was trying to stock up on diesel fuel in case the power transmission was damaged again. The diesel could then be used to power the isolated power plant and keep the reactors cooled.
Europe’s largest atomic power plant, Energodar, with a replacement value in the tens of billions of dollars, is seen as a war prize for Putin, who wants to redirect his energy production to the Russian grid .
Main points to take away from the questions and answers on the Ukrainian nuclear risk
The IAEA has urgently recommended that a “safety and security zone” be established around the plant. An agency team led by Grossi visited the facility this month – traversing an active battlefield for the first time in the IAEA’s 65-year history – and two monitors remain at the plant.
Closing Zaporizhzhia for the rest of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict is the safest option, a former IAEA security official told Bloomberg News on Thursday during a question-and-answer session on Ukraine’s nuclear risk.
“Every day the plant is completely closed, the easier it is to cool, although the spent fuel ponds need cooling (or even water brought in via fire hoses),” Robert said. Kelley, former director of IAEA safeguards and former head of the US department. of Energy’s radiological emergency response cell.
“A planned shutdown and prolonged hiatus until the war is resolved is the safest course of action,” Kelley said.