Russia has formally taken over the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in the southern region of Ukraine, which it has occupied militarily since early March, as per a decree signed on Wednesday by President Vladimir Putin.
However, the head of Ukrainian nuclear operator Energoatom, Petro Kotine, announced on Wednesday that it would take over the plant.
Shortly following the Russian takeover was announced, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Rafael Grossi, who had planned to travel to Kyiv and Moscow this week, announced his departure for Kyiv to discuss the establishment of a protective zone around the planet.
Grossi took it to the Twitter stating that, “On our way to Kyiv for important meetings. The need for a Nuclear Safety & Security Protection Zone around the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant is now more urgent than ever.”
The plant, the largest in Europe, is located in the Zaporizhzhia region, one of the Ukrainian territories officially annexed last week by Russia, and not far from the dividing line between the territories controlled by Kyiv and those occupied by Moscow.
The plant is now located in Russia and should be run by Russian nuclear energy specialists, according to the Kremlin. “The government will have to ensure that the nuclear installations of the plant are accepted as federal property,” the Russian decree stated. It was not clear whether the Russians planned to replace the staff.
Despite the war that has been going on for more than seven months, the nuclear power plant is still functioning and supplies about a fifth of Ukraine’s energy needs.
While the administrative management of the plant was transferred to Moscow on Wednesday, the Ukrainian nuclear operator Energoatom expressed indignation at “the creation of pseudo-companies with the name of Ukrainian companies.”
The Russian move shows “the agony of the crazy imaginary world of the aggressor country,” Energoatom added.