Rafael Grossi, the Director-General of the International Atomic Energy Agency, revealed this week that progress had been made on a deal that would see Russian forces remove heavy weapons from the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant.
Grossi made the comments during an interview in Milan where he received an honorary degree in nuclear engineering.
“There is a concrete proposal on the safety of Zaporizhzhia and important progress has been made,” Grossi told Italian newspaper La Repubblica.
Per CNN, Grossi said that both sides now agree on some basic principles and want to take steps to ensure that the plant remains safe.
“The two sides now agree on some basic principles. The first is that of protection: it means accepting that you don’t shoot ‘on’ the plant and ‘from’ the plant. The second is the recognition that the IAEA is the only possible way forward,” Grossi said.
The comments come after Petro Kotin, the head of Ukraine’s state energy operator Energoatom claimed that there were “signs” Russian soldiers were leaving the plant.
The claims were denied by the Kremlin, with Russian officials insisting that troops remain on the plant’s grounds and that Zaporizhzhia’s energy infrastructure belonged to the Russian Federation.
How Russians Are Responding
Russian soldiers and officials responded badly to the news that the Kremlin may plan on striking a deal with the IAEA.
One Russian Telegram account speculated that the discussions with the IAEA are part of a “cunning plan” to undermine Russia in the war.
“In general, it is not clear what kind of movements are taking place around the Zaporozhye NPP (statement by the Director of the IAEA),” an account writes.
“I don’t want to disperse the sh*t through the pipes ahead of time, but already around this whole situation there is a very strong smell of another cunning plan. The smell is extremely stable, I really hope that it is false.”
Another account warned that Russians should not make any further concessions in the war, despite the Kremlin’s repeated refusal to concede any of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s stated goals in Ukraine.
“When we make concessions, and this has happened more than once, everyone would really like to know what our side gets in return,” one Russian account writes.
“If someone thinks that people do not notice anything and believe in fairy tales, then this is not so. Maybe it’s time to establish a dialogue with people, and not live in another dimension? After all, when unexpected global difficulties come, our authorities and elites turn to the people for help.”
Jack Buckby is 19FortyFive’s Breaking News Editor.