| 21 April 2024, Sunday |

Putin asserts control over Ukraine nuclear plant, Kyiv disagrees

On Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin directed his government to seize control of Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station, Europe’s largest, as the United Nations nuclear watchdog warned that the site’s power supply was “very vulnerable.”

However, the head of Ukraine’s state energy agency stated that he would take over the facility, which has been a source of international worry due to the prospect of a nuclear accident following shelling in the region for which Moscow and Kyiv have both claimed responsibility.

Russia seized the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power facility (ZNPP) in March, shortly after invading Ukraine, but Ukrainian workers have kept it running.

The facility is located in Zaporizhzhia, a southern Ukrainian territory that President Vladimir Putin formally integrated into Russia on Wednesday, a move that Kyiv has decried as an unlawful land grab.

“The Zaporizhzhia nuclear reactor is now on Russian Federation territory and, as such, should be run under the supervision of our appropriate institutions,” Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Vershinin told RIA.

Putin later signed a decree that designated the ZNPP “federal property”.

Russia’s nuclear power operator Rosenergoatom said in a statement it would conduct an assessment of how to repair damage and transfer all existing Ukrainian employees to a new Russian-owned organization.

“The new operating organization is designed to ensure the safe operation of the nuclear power plant and the professional activities of the existing plant personnel,” it said.

Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, said Putin’s “attempted legal raid” demanded an immediate response. Writing on Twitter, he called for sanctions against state-owned nuclear power supplier Rosatom.

He also demanded a halt to all construction of nuclear facilities with Rosatom and the rejection of any nuclear partnerships with Russia.

  • Reuters