Moscow, Aug 12 (EFE).- Russia is mulling the creation of a demilitarized zone around the Ukrainian nuclear power plant in Zaporizhzhia – the largest in Europe – which has been under Russian occupation since March and has been hit by shelling in recent days, raising concerns of a nuclear disaster.
“It is a sensible initiative, I believe that we are going to support it,” Russian senator Vladimir Dzhabarov said, according to the RIA Novosti news agency.
But despite calls from the United States and the United Nations for Moscow to hand the reins of the plant over to Ukraine, Dzhabarov insisted that “Russia must maintain control of the station.”
Dzhabarov added that if Ukraine agrees to work towards creating a demilitarized zone, “it will show that it aspires to normalize the situation.”
The Chairman of the Russian Federation Council (the upper house of parliament) Senator Andrey Klishas on Friday also called for the “demilitarization of the entire territory from where strikes on the Zaporizhzhia NPP could be delivered.”
“A disaster at the Zaporizhzhia NPP could turn into a tragedy for Ukraine’s allies in Europe, too, and the entire responsibility for potential consequences would rest with Kyiv and Washington,” Klishas was quoted as saying by Tass news agency.
Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenskyy issued a stark warning on Thursday night in a video address to the nation, saying: “What is happening now around the Zaporizhia NPP (ZNPP) is one of the biggest crimes of the terrorist state.”
The Ukrainian leader stressed that “absolutely everyone in the world must react immediately to expel the Russian invaders from the ZNPP,” Europe’s largest nuclear power plant.
Kyiv on Thursday reported that Russian forces had continued to bomb the nuclear power plant.
According to Energoatom, the state-owned company that operates the station, five projectiles struck the plant management office near the welding area and the storage area for radioactive material.
The UN pressured Russia and Ukraine on Thursday to avoid a nuclear disaster at Zaporizhzhia and urged both nations to immediately cease all military activities near the facilities.
UN chief António Guterres again sounded the alarm over the “deeply worrying incidents” that have unfolded in the area in recent days, hours before the Security Council held an urgent meeting to assess the situation.
A preliminary assessment by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), suggests “there is no immediate threat to nuclear safety as a result of the shelling or other recent military actions,” Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi told the security council meeting on Thursday.
Grossi added that this could change at any moment and called for the warring sides to cooperate with the IAEA and allow for a mission to the plant as soon as possible.
The IAEA chief added that, so far, he had received contradictory information from Ukraine and Russia about the status of the facility, its operation and the damage it sustained.EFE