In the morning, the IAEA team of experts set out on a 125-kilometer journey to the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant. But the team has already had to interrupt its journey because the route is under fire. However, the team does not want to be dissuaded from its mission.
Before the start of the mission of a team of experts from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in the Ukrainian nuclear power plant Zaporizhia there was again heavy shelling in the vicinity. IAEA boss Rafael Grossi said on Thursday morning that he and his team were very aware of the situation. "There was military activity, also this morning, a few minutes ago," Grossi said. "But we won't stop."
The city of Enerhodar, located near the nuclear power plant, has been under attack with grenade launchers and rockets since dawn, Ukrainian Mayor Dmytro Orlov told the city in the Telegram messenger service. He accused the Russian military of also attacking the route of the IAEA mission to Zaporizhia. For safety reasons, the IAEA team cannot continue on its way to the nuclear power plant. Orlov called on Moscow to "stop the provocations and allow the IAEA access to the nuclear power plant."
The Russian Defense Ministry rejected the allegations. It accused the Ukrainian army of firing artillery at the "meeting point" of the IAEA mission near the nuclear power plant.
It also accused the Ukrainian military of deploying "saboteurs" near the nuclear power plant. Around 6:00 a.m. (5:00 a.m. CEST) "two groups of saboteurs with up to 60 members" landed about three kilometers from the nuclear power plant, the ministry said. Russian troops "took action to destroy the enemy."
The 14 experts, led by IAEA Director Rafael Grossi, arrived on Wednesday in the city of the same name, Zaporizhia. From there it is a 120 kilometer drive to the city of Enerhodar to Europe's largest nuclear power plant. The city of Zaporizhia is controlled by Ukraine, while Enerhodar and the nuclear power plant are controlled by Russian troops. However, Europe's largest nuclear power plant is operated by Ukrainian technicians.
In the past few weeks, there have been repeated attacks on and around the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant, for which Kyiv and Moscow blamed each other. The shelling feeds fears that Zaporizhia could experience a nuclear disaster similar to that in 1986 in Chernobyl, Ukraine, which was then part of the Soviet Union.