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Russia, which controls the Zaporizhzhya nuclear plant in southeastern Ukraine, is preparing to disconnect the operating blocks of the plant from the power grid, Ukrainian state nuclear firm Energoatom said on Friday as tensions around the plant have escalated in recent days.
Energoatom believes that Russia was preparing to stage a “large-scale provocation” at Zaporizhzhya, the largest nuclear plant in Europe, the Ukrainian company said in a statement carried by Reuters.
Zaporizhzhya has been occupied by Russian forces since the early days of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. In the early days of the invasion of Ukraine, Russia shelled the Zaporizhzhya power plant, creating concerns about a nuclear disaster ten times bigger than Chernobyl.
Ukrainian staff is still operating the Zaporizhzhya power plant, but there are Russian occupying forces on the ground.
In recent days, tensions have escalated, and last week Antonio Guterres, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, called on Ukraine and Russia to halt fighting in the area of the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant and institute a demilitarized zone around it.
Earlier this week, Russia rejected a proposal by Guterres to demilitarize the area around Zaporizhzhya.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan discussed the issue with Zaporizhzhya with Guterres and with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Thursday, warning about “another Chernobyl” disaster, AFP reported.
Upon his return to Turkey, Erdogan said the situation at Zaporizhzhya was “a threat for the world” and that he plans to discuss the issue with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“We will discuss this issue with Mr. Putin, and we will ask him specifically for this so that Russia does its part in this regard as an important step for world peace. [Russians] need to take this step. Ukraine has both its own technical staff and its own military forces in Zaporizhzhya. And they are capable of securing safety with their technical staff and soldiers there,” Erdogan said, as carried by Radio Free Europe.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews.