Zelensky calls on Russia to withdraw its forces from Zaporizhia

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has urged NATO member states to ensure the protection of Ukraine’s nuclear power plants and called on Russia to withdraw its forces from Zaporizhia.

“Today I spoke with French President Emmanuel Macron about the implementation of several points related to radiation safety and the situation at the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant, as well as energy security in Ukraine and in Europe,” Zelensky said on Monday evening.

He added: “We are working to ensure the implementation of the directives of the International Atomic Energy Agency to stop any hostile activity against Ukrainian nuclear sites. This is why the demilitarization of the Zaporizhia plant is crucial … Russia must withdraw all its fighters from there and stop its bombardment of the power plant.” .

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Zelensky thanked President Macron for his willingness to support the protection of nuclear facilities, adding: “We are also doing our best to hold a conference on the reconstruction of Ukraine and the implementation of the rapid recovery plan, as France has shown his willingness to demonstrate the initiative in efficient and effective way”.

The Russian-controlled Zaporizhia nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine was bombed on Saturday and Sunday, sparking fears of a major accident just 500km from Chernobyl, the site of the world’s worst nuclear disaster in 1986.

Russia and Ukraine blame each other for the attacks on the station, which is located in aarea controlled by the Russians near the front line of the fighting. Reuters was not in able to confirm in independently the identity of the party responsible for the attack that took place earlier in the week.

The United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency said the attacks heralded a major disaster.

Russia said on Monday that the bombing of Zaporizhia could lead to a major nuclear accident and repeated its allegations that Ukrainian forces were responsible for the attacks.

Zelensky also called for fresh European sanctions against Moscow over what he described as a “policy of genocide” as Russian forces shell key civilian infrastructure. Russia denies deliberate targeting of civilians in Ukraine, but acknowledges a campaign of attacks on power plants and other infrastructure.

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