26th Mar 2023

France, Germany, UK and US discuss Ukraine nuclear plant

  • Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant (Photo: Wikimedia)
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The leaders of the United States, Germany, France and the UK are pressing for a rapid solution to the tensions surrounding Ukraine's Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant.

A White House statement issued on Sunday (21 August), said the four had discussed the "need to avoid military operations near the plant."

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They also want inspectors from the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency to visit the plant "as soon as feasible to ascertain the state of safety systems."

The statement comes amid fears that Russia's war in Ukraine, as well as its military presence at the plant, could lead to a nuclear disaster.

More than 1,000 people were evacuated from areas in the Zaporizhzhia region over the weekend, according to Ukrainian media.

The UN's secretary-general Antonio Guterres last week described any potential damage to the facility as "suicide" given the nearby repeated shelling over the past weeks.

A telephone call between French president Emmanuel Macron and Russia's president Vladimir Putin on Friday may have yielded some results.

According to the French presidency readout of the call, Putin "indicated his agreement to the deployment" of a mission from the UN inspectors to the plant.

A follow-up statement from the Kremlin issued similar views, noting that UN inspectors should visit the plant as soon as possible.

But Russia also wants the inspectors to enter through Russia's occupied territory, a view that has riled Kyiv.

Meanwhile, Ukraine says Russia is trying to disconnect the plant from its energy grid. Such a move would leave millions of Ukrainians without power.

The incident comes amid continuing Russian shelling over the weekend in eastern Ukraine.

A daily Ukrainian government war bulletin on Sunday says Russia shelled Chernihiv and Sumy regions, as well as places in Kramatorsk and Bakhmut.

Russia has since sparked further tensions after blaming Ukraine for a weekend car bombing in Moscow, which killed the daughter of a key Putin ally.

Ukraine has denied any involvement.

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