The IAEA team is standing at a checkpoint about 20 kilometers in front of the front line, according to the Russian occupation administration. The inspection is not hindered by the fact that the town of Enerhodar is without electricity according to the occupation administration.
The shelling of the IAEA mission route was also confirmed in the morning by the head of Zaporozhye regional administration, Alexander Starukh. “The Russians are shelling the pre-arranged route of the IAEA mission from (the city of) Zaporozhye to the Zaporozhye Nuclear Power Plant. The UN team cannot continue to move due to security reasons,” Starukh wrote on Telegram.
One of the reactors at the Zaporozhye Nuclear Power Plant had to be shut down due to Russian shelling, Ukrainian plant operator Enerhoatom said.
“As a result of another mortar attack by the Russian occupying forces on the site of the Zaporozhye Nuclear Power Plant, the emergency protection was triggered and the functioning fifth power unit was shut down,” Enerhoatom said, adding that the power plant’s sixth unit is still in operation. In the largest nuclear power plant in Europe, these two of the total six units have been in operation so far.
According to Enerhoatom, the backup line of the electrical transmission system was damaged by shelling. Disconnected from the grid, unit 2 was shut down and is now powered by diesel generators. “Ukrainian personnel of the power plant are doing everything to eliminate damage to its infrastructure,” the Ukrainian facility operator said.
Shelling at the front line
According to Reuters, the Russian Ministry of Defense announced in a statement that Ukrainian forces attempted to attack the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant. Up to 60 soldiers reportedly crossed the Dnieper River in boats on Thursday morning in what was believed to be a “provocation” to disrupt an IAEA inspection mission, the ministry said.
The alleged Ukrainian attackers were stopped by members of the Russian National Guard guarding the power plant, the ministry said. “A sabotage group of the Ukrainian Armed Forces is currently being eliminated with the help of helicopters of the Army Air Force,” the agency reports.
According to him, the Ukrainian army also shelled the place near the village of Vasylivka, where the inspection mission was supposed to cross the front line. The power plant itself also became the target of Ukrainian shelling, when four artillery shells landed at a distance of 400 meters from one of the blocks, the ministry claims.
“They (Ukrainian soldiers) are lying down at the moment, the air force is working on them,” said the head of the Russian occupation administration Enerhodar, Alexander Volha. According to him, the Ukrainians fortified themselves in a cottage area near Enerhodar. “The operation will end soon,” he added.
“Since five o’clock in the morning, the mortar shelling of the city has not stopped. Machine gun fire is heard. Several civilian objects are known to have been hit. There are wounded here. We are finding out exactly how much,” said the Ukrainian mayor of the city, Dmytro Orlov.
Inspectors from the IAEA are scheduled to visit the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant, which has been occupied by Russian invasion troops since March. The convoy with the delegation set off from Zaporozhye, which is under the control of the Ukrainian government and is located several tens of kilometers from the largest nuclear power plant in Europe. The team will thus have to cross the front line on their way to the facility.
According to Grossi’s elders, the initial inspection should last several days, while the IAEA hopes that it will then be able to establish a permanent presence of its experts at the power plant. Russia is said to have provided guarantees that the 14 international experts participating in the current expedition will be able to carry out their work at the facility.
Concerns of Ukraine and the whole world
The situation surrounding the power plant, which is the largest facility of its kind in Europe, raises concerns in Ukraine and the world about a possible nuclear disaster. Last week, according to the Ukrainian authorities, two reactors still operating were temporarily disconnected from the grid due to a fire at the site. According to the agencies, the authorities have started distributing iodine tablets to residents in its vicinity, which are used to protect health in the event of a radiation leak.
The power plant is still kept running by Ukrainian employees, but they are under the supervision of Russian invasion units and experts. Kyiv is seeking international assistance in demilitarizing the facility as well as retaking control of the power plant and its surroundings. Ukraine accuses Russia of using the power plant as a shield, storing weapons there and launching attacks from its vicinity. Both countries blame each other for shelling the power plant.