Aug 18, 2022 - World

Zelensky calls on UN to protect Russia-occupied nuclear plant

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky with United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Lviv on August 18.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky with United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Lviv on Thursday. Photo: Turkish Presidency/ Murat Cetinmuhurdar/ Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called on the United Nations Thursday to "ensure the security" of Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, which has been occupied by Russia since March.

Why it matters: Russia has maintained military activity at or near the facility, which is Europe's largest nuclear power plant, for several months despite repeated condemnations from dozens of other countries and UN Secretary-General António Guterres.

  • Ukraine and Russia have accused each other of shelling areas near the facility or in the nearby city of Enerhodar.
  • Guterres has denounced the fighting near the facility as "suicidal" and has repeatedly called for the immediate cessation of military activity near the plant and the removal of military personnel and equipment from the site.

What they're saying: Zelensky said Guterres and he discussed the power plant during a meeting in Lviv on Thursday.

  • "Separate attention was paid to the topic of nuclear blackmail of Russia at the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant," Zelensky said in a post on social media.
  • "This deliberate terror by the aggressor could have global catastrophic consequences. Therefore, the UN must ensure the security of this strategic object, its demilitarization and complete liberation from Russian troops," he added.
  • Zelensky said in an address Wednesday night that Ukrainian diplomats and nuclear scientists are working with the IAEA to send an inspection team to the plant.

The big picture: Rafael Mariano Grossi, the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, has also condemned the military activity near the plant.

  • Russia's Defense Ministry said Thursday that it may force the plant to shut down in response to Ukrainian shelling, which Ukrainian officials have denied.

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