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UN Warns Of Disaster As Russia, Ukraine Face Off In Zaporizhia

Antonio Guterres, the secretary-general of the United Nations, has called on Ukraine and Russia to halt fighting in the area of the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant and institute a demilitarized zone around it.

"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," Guterres said, as quoted by Reuters.

"Regrettably, instead of de-escalation, over the past several days there have been reports of further deeply worrying incidents that could, if they continue, lead to disaster," Guterres said in a statement on August 11.

The Zaporizhia nuclear plant is controlled by the Russian army, but the Ukrainian government claims it is the Russians that are shelling the facility. The Russian side says the Ukrainian forces are attacking it to wrestle back control.

The UN Security Council met yesterday to discuss the matter. Russia's UN Ambassador, Vasiliy Nebenzya, said experts from the International Atomic Energy Agency would visit the Zaporizhia NPP later this month.

The United States backed the call for a demilitarized zone and urged IAEA experts to visit the facility.

Earlier in the week, the head of the IAEA, Rafael Marian Grossi, said that there was a "very real risk of a nuclear disaster" due to the situation around the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine due to regular shelling.

Related: A Radical Plan To Reduce Europe’s Oil Demand By 33%

In a tweet, Grossi said, "The @iaeaorg team must go to Zaporizhia just as we did to Chornobyl and South Ukraine earlier in the year. We can put together a safety, security and safeguards mission and deliver the indispensable assistance and impartial assessment that is needed."

"Any military firepower directed at or from the facility would amount to playing with fire, with potentially catastrophic consequences," Grossi also said.

"I strongly and urgently appeal to all parties to exercise the utmost restraint in the vicinity of this important nuclear facility, with its six reactors. And I condemn any violent acts carried out at or near the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant or against its staff," he also said.

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By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

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