UN's Grossi Meets With Putin Over Threatened Plant

International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi met with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday in a meeting deigned to address concerns over the Zaporzhzhia Nuclear Power Plant which sits in a Russian-occupied war zone in Ukraine.

IAEA FlagThe Zaporzhzhia plant is the largest nuclear power plant in Europe with six reactors, all of which are currently shut down. However media reports have chronicled power outrages at the plant that directly affect safety and security at the plant although diesel generators have been deployed to create electricity during outages.

While Gross stressed the need for creation of a safety zone, Putin repeatedly called attention in a televised broadcast to the “politicization” of the plant, understanding the state of the large facility could spin negatively or positively in the news for whoever oversees its wartime security.

Currently, the plant is being serviced by its Ukrainian staff, but it is in Russian-held territory that Russia has claimed is now annexed to Russia. The acting director of Ukraine’s nuclear power operator Energoatom, Petro Kotin said the Ukrainian technicians are being told to declare their allegiance to Russa or risk losing their jobs. The World Nuclear Association quoted Kotin as saying to his Ukrainian crew that should “not be swayed” by Russian tactics meant to legitimize Russia’s possession of the plant.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has put two nuclear concerns in the forefront of international worries. One of them is the fate of the Zaporzhzhia plant, while the other involves Putin’s repeated threats of using nuclear weapons in his efforts to defeat Ukraine, a country without a nuclear arsenal power.

Grossi’s visit Tuesday was dedicated to his more immediate concern: The safety of the plant that has been threatened by conventional missiles and artillery.

 "The situation in the region around the Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant and elsewhere has become increasingly dangerous, precarious and challenging, with frequent military attacks that can also threaten nuclear safety and security," Director General Grossi said in a statement.

In part of a televised press event with Grossi, Putin said seemed to focus more on how the situation is being portrayed by the media than he was on the situation itself. “We very much hope that, thanks to your efforts, we will be able to reduce all this rhetoric and turn this sphere of our activity and cooperation into a normal state, despite the turbulence and complex prosses that are taking place on the world stage,” Putin said.

Grossi met with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv prior to meeting with Putin. Grossi and Zelensky plan to meet again later this week.

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