Russia has submitted evidence of Ukrainian attacks on the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant to the UN Security Council and the General Assembly, as reported by the Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia on Tuesday.
“Despite the false statements of the Kiev regime and its backers, Russia has not placed heavy weapons on the territory of the ZNPP [Zaporozhye Nuclear Power Plant] and does not use the station for military purposes,” Nebenzia stated.
He also added that the Russian Ministry of Defense is ready to provide the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) with high-resolution images, which show that weapons, especially heavy ones, are not placed on the territory of the station.
In addition to the photographic evidence of Ukrainian shelling of the plant, Nebenzia entered into the record a timeline of strikes, named the Ukrainian artillery unit involved, and specified which strikes featured M777 howitzers given to Ukraine by the Pentagon.
“It seems that our colleagues exist in some kind of their own parallel reality, in which the Russian military shells the NPP it is protecting, using American systems at that,” Nebenzia said.
Contrary to the claims by Kiev and its Western allies, Nebenzia noted that Moscow had given assent to the International Atomic Energy Agency to visit the Zaporozhye NPP back in June, before the Ukrainian drone, artillery and rocket attacks began.
The Zaporozhye plant is located in Energodar, a city in southern Ukraine under the control of Russian troops since March. The plant’s civilian staff continued operations unhindered until the artillery attacks began in July. Nebenzia blamed the US and its allies for tolerating “criminal” behavior by Ukraine. However, Kiev has denied responsibility for the attacks and accused Russia of shelling the nuclear site to discredit Ukraine and placing troops and heavy weapons inside the NPP’s perimeter, thus “making it a legitimate target.”
IAEA Director General, Rafael Grossi, said on Tuesday he will personally head the mission to the ZNPP in the coming days, and that the UN nuclear watchdog intends to establish a permanent presence on site. He did not specify whether they would travel through territory controlled by Russia or by Ukraine, saying only that such matters need to be “set aside” given the urgency of the situation. The IAEA wants to inspect the integrity of the Zaporozhye NPP, speak to both Russian and Ukrainian staff there, and establish a permanent presence on the ground, Grossi said.
Kiev has insisted that the IAEA team can only travel to the site through Ukraine. Russia’s permanent envoy to the organization, Mikhail Ulyanov, said last week that he could see an inspection happening “in early September,” provided there was no interference from “external factors that have nothing to do with the goals of the IAEA visit.” Russia wanted an IAEA visit in June, Ulyanov said, but that proposal fell through and “in a sense, things have to be done from scratch now.”