Rumors have been circulating for several days about Russia’s desire to leave the occupied Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant, although the Russian army stores a lot of weapons there. The Ukrainian Chief Engineer of the Zaporizhzhya NPP was in any case appointed as the Site Director. Is this a new additional sign?
“I made a decision. In my opinion, this is the only possible and correct decision: to accept the offer to head the Zaporozhye NPP,” Yuriy Chernichuk said in a statement published on Wednesday in the station’s Telegram account.
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Yuri Chernichuk was previously the chief engineer at this largest nuclear power plant in Europe, located in the region of the same name, which Russia claims to annex. He felt he had to take responsibility for the facility to ensure the plant was functioning properly in a very difficult environment. “We have done and are doing everything possible and impossible so that the world does not experience new nuclear accidents like Fukushima and Chernobyl,” he added in this press release.
500 Russian soldiers in positions?
Rosenergoatom, the Russian operator of the nuclear power plant, which has de facto run the site since it was occupied by Russian troops, explained that all key positions at the plant were held by people from the previous team, i.e. Ukrainians.
For months, Moscow and Kyiv accused each other of bombing the station, raising concerns about the risk of a nuclear accident. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has repeatedly denounced the “unacceptable” nature of these strikes. On November 17, she passed a resolution calling on Russia to withdraw from the Ukrainian power plant in Zaporozhye.
Earlier, on October 5, President Vladimir Putin signed a decree formally moving Russia to a nuclear facility days after Kyiv-appointed plant director general Igor Murashov was kidnapped by a “Russian patrol,” according to a Ukrainian operator. Energoatom before it was finally released.
According to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Russia has deployed 500 Russian troops at the site of the Zaporozhye power plant. Meanwhile, until now, the IAEA and the international community have been unsuccessfully multiplying calls for the demilitarization of the site.