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The IAEA en route to the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant

The IAEA en route to the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant

A mission from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) arrived in Zaporizhia, a war zone in southeastern Ukraine, on Wednesday, en route to the atomic power plant where bombings have raised fears for weeks of a nuclear accident.

The convoy of about 20 cars, half of them marked “UN” (UN), and an ambulance, entered the city, located about 50 kilometers as the crow flies from the plant, early Wednesday afternoon. noon, according to AFP journalists on the spot.

“This is a mission that seeks to avoid a nuclear accident and to preserve this important nuclear power plant, the largest in Europe,” said IAEA Director General Rafaelo Grossi, head of the mission.

The mission, which was received by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky the day before in kyiv, left the capital early Wednesday morning.

According to the Russian agency TASS, citing a pro-Russian official, the 14-person delegation is due to arrive at the plant on Thursday.

“We have a very, very important job to do there, to assess the real situation, to help stabilize the situation as much as possible,” Grossi said in the morning. “We are going to spend a few days there”.

He said he had received security guarantees from the Russian and Ukrainian authorities.

“Occupied Territory”

“These operations are very complex: we are going to a war zone, we are going to occupied territory,” the official stressed.

Ukraine has called on Russian forces to stop firing on the road leading to the plant.

“The Russian occupation troops must stop firing on the corridors used by the IAEA delegation and not hinder its activities at the plant,” Ukrainian foreign policy spokesman Oleg Nikolenko said on Facebook.

The Russians, who control the plant and Energodar, the city on whose territory the plant is located, bombed this city to give the impression to the IAEA mission that it was kyiv that was bombing the surroundings of the plant, affirmed Yevguen Yevtouchenko, head of the administration of Nikopol, located opposite Energodar, on the other side of the Dnieper river.

In Moscow, the Russian Defense Ministry symmetrically accused Ukrainian forces on Wednesday of “provocations” aimed at “disrupting the work of the IAEA mission”, claiming that one of the Ukrainian artillery bombardments had “hit Tuesday “a radioactive waste reprocessing building” of the complex.

kyiv and Moscow have been accusing each other for weeks of endangering the safety of the plant and risking a nuclear accident.

The plant, the largest in Europe, has been occupied by the Russian army since the beginning of March, after the invasion of Ukraine launched on February 24. kyiv has accused Moscow of deploying hundreds of troops there and stockpiling ammunition there.

Volodymyr Zelensky, receiving the IAEA experts on Tuesday, had repeated that it was necessary to obtain from Russia “an immediate demilitarization” of the plant and the departure from the site “of all the Russian soldiers with all their explosives, all their weapons ” .

The Zaporizhia power plant, one of the four nuclear power plants operating in Ukraine, has six reactors with a capacity of 1000 megawatts each.

Last week, it was briefly disconnected from the power grid for the first time in its history, after power lines were damaged.

gas war

On the ground, “fighting is currently taking place practically on the entire front line: in the south, in the Kharkiv region (northeast) and in the Donbass (east),” President Zelensky said on Tuesday evening.

On Wednesday morning, the Ukrainian authorities notably reported four deaths in the Donetsk region (east), one of the two provinces of the Donbass basin, partly controlled by pro-Russian forces since 2014, and whose total conquest is the Moscow’s strategic priority.

In this region, “fierce fighting continues in the direction of Bakhmout and Avdiivka”, where “the Russians tried unsuccessfully to advance” but had to “retreat”, they added.

They also reported at least one death in Mykolaiv, in the south, where two dead and 24 injured had already been reported the day before.

In this region, the Ukrainian army is continuing its counter-offensives, particularly around Kherson, one of the few major Ukrainian cities conquered by Moscow.

The Russian Ministry of Defense for its part assured Wednesday that its forces had repelled the Ukrainian offensives in the past two days, inflicting heavy losses on the enemy with in particular “eight helicopters” and “63 tanks” destroyed and “1,700 men” you are.

This information was unverifiable from independent sources.

Ukraine’s presidency on Tuesday reported “powerful explosions” in the Kherson region as well as the destruction of “a number of Russian ammunition depots” and “all major bridges” that allow vehicles to cross the Dnieper , the river watering this part of Ukraine. And this in order to cut off supplies from Crimea.

On Tuesday, the authorities of Kharkiv (north-east), the second city of Ukraine, announced the death of at least five people in Russian strikes.

In another parallel war, that of gas, the Russian giant Gazprom announced on Wednesday that it had “entirely” suspended its gas deliveries to Europe via the Nord Stream gas pipeline due to maintenance work expected to last three days.

On the diplomatic front, EU foreign ministers agreed on Wednesday to suspend a 2007 agreement with Russia to mutually facilitate the issuance of short-stay visas.

Including on this aspect, relations with Moscow “could not remain unchanged”, underlined the head of foreign policy of the European Union Josep Borrell.

This article has been published automatically. Sources: ats / afp

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