Russia says it welcomes the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) upcoming mission to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Russian-controlled territory of eastern Ukraine, the RIA Novosti news agency has reported.
Russia’s permanent representative to the international organizations in Vienna, Mikhail Ulyanov, has said that his government has made a significant contribution to the UN nuclear agency's upcoming visit.
He said Moscow hoped that a visit by the IAEA team to the Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station in Ukraine would dispel misconceptions about its allegedly poor state.
“We hope that the visit of the IAEA mission at the station dispels numerous speculations about the (allegedly) unfavorable state of affairs at the nuclear power plant in Zaporizhia,” Ulyanov was quoted as saying.
Ulyanov’s comments came after the agency tweeted on Monday that its officials are set to visit and inspect the Russian-held Zaporizhzhia plant this week.
The announcement comes in the wake of months of negotiations in which the IAEA insisted on access to the facility, which Ukrainian staff are operating under the management of Russian authorities.
Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelensky said Europe was "one step away" from a radiation disaster on Thursday when the plant was briefly disconnected from Ukraine's power grid.
Last week, Russia's state media RT said it visited the plant in southern Ukraine, and saw "first-hand the aftermath of the shelling of the facility by Kiev's forces".
In their visit to the power plant, IAEA chief Rafael Grossi will assess any damage from recent shelling near the Zaporizhzhia station. Russia and Ukraine accuse each other of bombardments around the nuclear plant.
“We must protect the safety and security of Ukraine’s and Europe’s biggest nuclear facility,” Grossi said on Twitter.
“Proud to lead this mission which will be in #ZNPP [Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant] later this week,” he added, without specifying when they would arrive at Zaporizhzhia.
The IAEA also tweeted separately that the mission would evaluate the physical damage to the plant and investigate the working conditions of staff and “determine the functionality of safety & security systems.”
The Zaporizhzhia site was taken by Russian troops shortly after the Kremlin launched a military operation in Ukraine late in February.
The operation came in the wake of Kiev’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements and Moscow’s recognition of the breakaway regions of Donetsk and Luhansk.
At the time, Russian President Vladimir Putin said one of the goals of what he called a “special military operation” was to “de-Nazify” Ukraine.