ONGOING conflict near the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Plant in southern Ukraine could complicate a planned visit by IAEA inspectors (International Atomic Energy Agency).
Both Kyiv and Moscow have published statements in favor of the visit going ahead but equally accused each other of carrying out attacks in the vicinity of the plant, Europe’s largest.
Russian invading forces in Enerhodar (the city where the complex is located) accused Ukraine’s armed forces Tuesday of firing artillery near the nuclear plant’s spent fuel depot.
Ukrainian authorities, in turn, said Russian military had bombed routes that could be used by the IAEA team to travel to the nuclear plant.
In a tweet, Mykhailo Podolyak, an advisor to Ukraine’s president (Volodymyr Zelensky), said Russia was aiming to force the IAEA’s team, led by director-general Rafael Grossi, through Crimea, which Moscow annexed in 2014, and Russian-occupied territory in Ukraine.
“Ukraine’s position is the same. Access only through controlled territory of Ukraine,” he said.
Russia’s Reaction to IAEA Inspectors
The Kremlin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov on Tuesday insisted Russia was confident the IAEA visit would go ahead at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, which is held by Russia but operated by Ukrainian technicians.
He added that Russia’s “special military operation” would continue in line with plans and complete its objectives.
The arrival of the international inspectors to Ukraine coincided with a counter-offensive launched by Ukrainian armed forces against Russian occupiers in the south, concentrating around the Kherson Oblast.
Ukrainian authorities say the pushback has already beaten back three lines of Russian defense but concrete information has been kept from the public.
Zelensky said as much in his traditional evening address on Monday but warned Russian occupiers that Ukraine planned to take back all the territory it had lost so far in the invasion.