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Zaporizhzhia plant to operate under supervision of Russian agencies after annexation

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Russia plans to supervise operations of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant after formally annexing the wider Zaporizhzhia region in southern Ukraine this week, the state-owned RIA news agency reported on Wednesday, citing a foreign ministry official.

Russia captured the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant in early March shortly after invading Ukraine, but Ukrainian staff had continued to operate it. Both Moscow and Kyiv have since accused each other of shelling the facility, risking a nuclear disaster.

“The Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant is now on the territory of the Russian Federation and, accordingly, should be operated under the supervision of our relevant agencies,” RIA quoted Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Vershinin as saying.

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It was not clear how Russia planned to operate the plant and if it would try and introduce its own staff to the complex.

Another state-owned Russian news agency, TASS, reported that Rafael Grossi, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the UN nuclear watchdog, will visit Moscow in the coming days to discuss the situation at the plant.

Russia acted to annex Zaporizhzhia and three other regions after holding what it called referendums – votes that were denounced by Kyiv and Western governments as illegal and coercive. Moscow does not fully control any of the regions.

The news of Russia’s intentions to supervise operations of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear were followed by comments from the head of Ukraine’s state nuclear energy company who said on Wednesday that he was taking charge of the nuclear power station, urging workers at the plant not to sign any documents with its Russian occupiers.

Energoatom chief Petro Kotin made his comments in a video address posted on the Telegram messaging app despite Russia saying it plans to supervise the plant’s operations.

The video address followed the brief detention by Russian forces of the Ukrainian who had been in charge of the plant, where Ukrainian staff are still working.

“All further decisions regarding the operation of the station will be made directly at the central office of Energoatom,” Kotin said. “We will continue to work under Ukrainian law, within the Ukrainian energy system, within Energoatom.”

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