A Russian-installed official in Ukraine said on Wednesday that Ukrainian forces had repeatedly used Western arms to attack Europe’ largest nuclear power plant which is now controlled by Russian forces.
Yevgeny Balitsky, the head of the Russian-installed administration of the Zaporizhzhia region, said that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) was due to visit the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant. The IAEA did not respond to a request for comment.
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“We are ready to show how the Russian military is guarding the plant, and how Ukraine, which receives weapons from the West, uses those weapons including drones to attack the nuclear power plant,” Balitsky said.
Reuters was unable to verify battlefield accounts from either side of the war.
The Zaporizhzhia plant, which has two of six reactors operating, has been the subject of repeated warnings from Ukraine, the West and Russia. It was shelled on March 4.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday called Russia’s actions around the plant “the height of irresponsibility,” accusing Moscow of using it as a "nuclear shield" in attacks on Ukrainian forces.
Washington was “deeply concerned” that Moscow was now using the plant as a military base and firing on Ukrainian forces from around it, Blinken told reporters after nuclear nonproliferation talks at the United Nations in New York.
“Of course the Ukrainians cannot fire back lest there be a terrible accident involving the nuclear plant,” he said.
Russia’s actions went beyond using a “human shield,” Blinken said, calling it a “nuclear shield.”