UN chief proposes demilitarised zone at Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant


The UN chief proposed a demilitarised zone at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant amid fears of a catastrophe as Russia and Ukraine accuse each other of shelling Europe’s biggest nuclear power plant.

Ukraine’s Energoatom agency said the Zaporizhzhia complex was struck five times on Thursday, including near places where radioactive materials are stored. Russian-appointed officials said Ukraine shelled the plant twice, disrupting a shift changeover, Russia’s TASS news agency said.

The UN Security Council met on Thursday to discuss the situation. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called on both sides to halt all fighting near the plant.

“The facility must not be used as part of any military operation. Instead, urgent agreement is needed at a technical level on a safe perimeter of demilitarisation to ensure the safety of the area,” the head of the UN said in a statement.

At the Security Council meeting, the United States backed the call for a demilitarised zone and urged the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to visit the site.

Moreover, the French foreign ministry said that “the presence and actions of the Russian armed forces near the plant significantly increase the risk of an accident with potentially devastating consequences”.

Only a withdrawl of Russian troops from the plant can guarantee nuclear security

Russia seized the Zaporizhzhia atomic complex in March after invading Ukraine on February 24. The plant is currently held by Russian troops and operated by Ukrainian workers.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy demanded Russia return the plant to Ukraine's control.

Only a full withdrawal of the Russians ... and the restoration of full Ukrainian control of the situation around the station can guarantee a resumption of nuclear security for all of Europe,” he said in a video address.

The fighting continues

Kyiv and Moscow have previously blamed each other for attacks on the site. Ukraine has also accused Russia of firing rockets at Ukrainian towns from around the captured nuclear power plant in the knowledge it would be risky for Ukraine to return fire.

Ukraine’s General Staff on Friday reported widespread shelling and air attacks by Russian forces on scores of towns and military bases, especially in the east.