Ukraine: IAEA chief condemns “targeted” shooting at Zaporizhzhia nuclear facility

The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) condemned on Sunday the “deliberate and targeted” shooting at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, the largest in Europe, calling for “stopping this madness”.

On Sunday, Russia and Ukraine once more accused one another of bombing this nuclear power station in southern Ukraine that the Russian army had militarily controlled.

Kiev additionally denied killing a number of Russian soldiers who had traveled there.

Rafael Grossi said in an interview with the French station BFMTV that it was “completely unacceptable” that explosions had taken place on the grounds of this major nuclear power plant.

The IAEA director insisted, “Whoever is doing this, it has to stop right once. The individuals who are doing this know where they are hitting. It is definitely planned and intentional “.

Moscow and Kiev have been blaming one another for bombarding the area along the front lines for several months.

The plant was the target of “a good dozen” strikes throughout the course of the weekend, from Saturday to Sunday, according to a statement from the IAEA.
Without blaming Russian or Ukrainian forces, its head described the situation as “dangerous.”

According to Rafael Grossi, “the plant is on the front lines, there are military activities that are very difficult to identify, and there are Russian and Ukrainian forces operating.”

For the Russian Defense Ministry, “the Kiev regime does not stop provocations to create the threat of a disaster at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.

On both Saturday and Sunday, Ukrainian forces fired more than 20 “large-caliber shells” at the plant, the ministry statement said.
The same source claims that they targeted the roof of a ” Special building ” close to blocs 4 and 5, where they blew between them.

This “special building” contains a nuclear fuel depot, said an official of the Russian nuclear power producer Rosenergoatom, Renat Kartchaa, as quoted by the official Russian agency TASS.

Despite these bombings, “the level of radiation in the area of the nuclear power station remains within the norm,” said the statement of the Russian Ministry of Defense.

“Nuclear blackmail”

The Ukrainian nuclear agency, for its part, accused Russia of bombing the site of the plant.

“This morning of the 20th of November 2022, as a result of multiple Russian bombings, at least 12 strikes were recorded on the site of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant,” said Energoatom, accusing the Russians of “once again organizing nuclear blackmail and putting the whole world at risk.”

“There are those who consider a nuclear power station to be a legitimate military target, which is unbelievable,” said the Director General of the IAEA

The IAEA is looking into the matter with two inspectors present at the plant. Rafael Grossi stated that “there was damage in quite delicate locations,” adding that “more the area where the fresh and used fuels are located” had been impacted rather than the reactors themselves.

He continued, “We expect to be able to conduct an inspection tomorrow morning very early,” saying that inspectors had been unable to depart Sunday due to the dangerous nature of the circumstances.

According to the French presidency, French President Emmanuel Macron “would probably talk” to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky after his Sunday meeting with the IAEA chairman to discuss the situation at the Zaporizhzhia facility.

Kherson under Russian attack

In his daily speech, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said nearly 400 Russian attacks took place in the east of the country on Sunday alone.
In the south of the country, in Kherson, which Ukrainian troops recently recaptured, residents were facing Russian bombardment after eight months of occupation.

Yuri Mosolov and his wife decided it was time to leave after the Russian army, which had been forced back across the river, bombarded the industrial area and set fire to an oil depot close to their building. Yuri Mosolov said, “After yesterday’s firing, my wife said, ‘Let’s not take too many risks, let’s leave.

A “war crime,” according to Moscow, was committed when Ukrainian troops were accused of “brutally” killing Russian soldiers who had given up their weapons.

The Ukrainian army claimed to have confirmed the veracity of the videos, whose authenticity Moscow claimed to have demonstrated Kiev’s execution of a dozen Russians.

Nevertheless, Dmytro Lubinets, a human rights commissioner in the Ukrainian parliament, claimed yesterday, Sunday, that sections from the videos demonstrate how Russian forces staged a surrender and fired on Ukrainian soldiers in a “false surrender.”

He considered that in this case the Russians “cannot be considered as prisoners of war” and “to retaliate is not a war crime”.
AFP was unable to independently confirm the videos. A UN spokesman, however, told AFP on Friday that the international organization was “aware of these videos” and was “examining” them.

Russia is militarily occupying the area around the power station as part of its attack against Ukraine that began on February 24. In addition to four Ukrainian regions, the annexation has been claimed by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

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