Are Russian Forces Withdrawing from the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant? The president of Ukraine’s nuclear energy company Energoatom claimed this weekend that Russian forces could be preparing to leave the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant.
The news follows weeks of rumors and reports from local news outlets that Russian forces may have been negotiating a deal to leave the plant.
Speaking to TSN, Petro Kotin said that there are “signs” Russia could be looking to leave the plant, which has been used as storage for Russian military vehicles, weapons, and ammunition since the early days of the conflict.
“There are some signs showing that they might be going to leave the Zaporizhzhia NPP. First of all, there have been a lot of publications in the Russian press saying that the Zaporizhzhia NPP could be left and handed over to the IAEA’s control,” Kotin said, suggesting that the International Atomic Energy Agency could be prepared to take over the plant as an independent third party.
Kotin said it looks as though Russian officials are “packing and stealing whatever they can find” on the plant.
Reports also revealed that Ukrainian workers at the plant, who have remained in the facility throughout the Russian invasion, were blocked from entering the facility in recent days.
Power Returns to Nuclear Plant
Following Russian shelling last week, the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, along with three other Ukrainian nuclear plants in Khmelnytskyi, Rivne, and South Ukraine, were disconnected from the national power grid.
Zaporizhzhia remained in a cold state, powered by diesel generators to keep essential safety equipment running.
On Friday, the International Atomic Energy Agency director-general Rafael Grossi confirmed that external power had been reconnected just one day after it was disconnected.
Power was also returned to the three other Ukrainian nuclear power plants this week, and a statement from the IAEA confirmed that a week-long mission to the site of the Chernobyl power plant, as well as the surrounding Exclusion Zone, had helped experts plan for upgrades at operational nuclear sites in Ukraine.
The purpose of the mission was to gain a “better understanding of the plant’s safety and security needs” and IAEA officials provided “advice and guidance on radiation monitoring” to workers at the Zaporizhzhia plant.
“The mission will help pave the way for upgrades and improvements of the plant’s nuclear security systems,” Grossi said in a statement.
Russia’s state nuclear energy company Rosatom also confirmed this week that it supported establishing a protection zone around the plant, as proposed by the International Atomic Energy Agency.
Jack Buckby is 19FortyFive’s Breaking News Editor.