This file photo dated May 1, 2022, shows a Russian soldier guarding an area of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in territory under Russian military control, southeastern Ukraine. (PHOTO / AP)
KYIV – An International Atomic Energy Agency mission will visit the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine this week, agency chief Rafael Grossi said on Twitter on Monday.
"We must protect the safety and security of Ukraine’s and Europe’s biggest nuclear facility," he wrote, adding that he would lead the mission.
An IAEA team he was leading was on its way to the south Ukraine plant and would arrive later this week, Grossi said.
Ukraine's state-run nuclear energy operator Energoatom said on Friday the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine had been reconnected to the electricity grid and had already started generating electricity for Ukraine's needs after one of its units shut down on Thursday
A top Russian diplomat said later Monday that Moscow welcomes IAEA's upcoming mission, the RIA Novosti news agency reported. Mikhail Ulyanov, Russia's permanent representative to the international organizations in Vienna said Russia had made a significant contribution to the visit.
The plant has been controled by Russian forces since early March, but Ukrainian staff has continued to operate it. In recent weeks, Ukraine and Russia have traded accusations of strikes on the facility.
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The Russian Defense Ministry said Friday that Zaporizhzhia, Europe's largest nuclear power plant, had been shelled twice by Ukrainian forces with large-calibre artillery over the past day.
Ukraine's state-run nuclear energy operator Energoatom said on Friday the nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine had been reconnected to the electricity grid and had already started generating electricity for Ukraine's needs after one of its units shut down on Thursday.
IAEA on Tuesday said its expert mission could visit Zaporizhzhia in southern Ukraine "within the next few days if ongoing negotiations succeed."
This screengrab of a Twitter post by International Atomic Energy Agency Director-General Rafael Grossi shows IAEA Support and Assistance Mission to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine.
Grossi said in a statement that he was continuing to consult "very actively and intensively with all parties so that this vital IAEA mission can take place without further delay."
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The United Nations and Ukraine have called for a withdrawal of military equipment and personnel from the plant to ensure it is not a target.