Ukraine says Russia is gradually reducing personnel at Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant

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Russia is gradually reducing the number of personnel at the occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station in southern Ukraine, Ukraine’s military intelligence agency said on Friday.

It did not say why some people had left and Reuters could not independently verify the information. Russia, which has occupied the plant since March 2022, did not immediately comment on the assertion.

Kyiv accused Russia this month of planning a “terrorist” attack at the nuclear plant involving the release of radiation. Moscow denied the accusation.

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“According to the latest data, the occupation contingent is gradually leaving the territory of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant,” Main Directorate of Intelligence at the Ministry of Defense (GUR) said on the Telegram messaging app.

GUR said that among the first to leave the nuclear power station were three employees of Russian state nuclear firm Rosatom who had been “in charge of the Russians’ activities.”

It said Ukrainian employees who have signed a contract with Rosatom had also been advised to depart.

Employees should leave by July 5, it said, and preferably head for the Crimea Peninsula, which Russia seized from Ukraine in 2014.

GUR said the number of military patrols was also gradually decreasing on the plant’s vast territory and in the nearby city of Enerhodar, and personnel remaining at the plant had been told to blame Ukraine “in case of any emergency situations.”

Ukraine conducted nuclear disaster response drills on Thursday in the vicinity of the plant.

Kyiv and Moscow have accused each other of shelling the vast complex at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station, Europe’s largest.

Ukraine, then part of the Soviet Union, suffered the world’s worst nuclear accident in 1986 at the Chornobyl nuclear power plant.

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