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Ukraine sees signs Russia is leaving key nuclear power plant

The Hill logo The Hill 11/27/2022 Olafimihan Oshin
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Ukrainian officials on Sunday said they are seeing signs Russian forces may retreat from a key nuclear power plant where tensions have been high since Moscow occupied the facility early in its invasion.

Petro Kotin, the head of Energoatom, Ukraine’s state-run nuclear energy company, said it was too soon to be sure what Russia was planning, but that he had reason to believe its forces might leave the Zaporizhzhia power plant, according to Reuters. 

“Firstly, there are a very large number of reports in Russian media that it would be worth vacating the (plant) and maybe worth handing control (of it) to the (International Atomic Energy Agency – IAEA),” Kotin said Sunday. “One gets the impression they’re packing their bags and stealing everything they can.”

Russian shelling has repeatedly hit in and around the Zaporizhzhia plant since Moscow invaded more than nine months ago, sparking concern from agencies such as the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), who previously said that the attacks have caused permanent damage to the plant. 

IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi met with Russian officials last week to discuss setting up a protection zone around the plant in an effort to prevent nuclear disaster, Reuters reported.

The tension over Zaporizhzhia is just part of an energy crisis sweeping Ukraine as Russia targets the electricity grid with aerial strikes ahead of winter.

Ukraine said the three nuclear power plants located in territory it controls are online again after a massive bombardment of missile attacks from Russia on Wednesday targeting Ukraine’s energy infrastructure.

Nuclear power is a substantial source of energy for Ukraine, and the attacks shut down the Rivne, South Ukrainian and Khmelnytsky power plants, officials said.

“All three nuclear plants located on the controlled territory of Ukraine are already in operation, and they are gaining power,” Volodymyr Kudrytskyi, the CEO of state-owned electricity operator Ukrenergo, said during a television appearance on Thursday.

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