Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Tuesday spoke by telephone to his French counterpart Catherine Colonna about an expected visit by independent inspectors to Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant.
Recent shelling and fighting around the giant facility has raised concerns of a nuclear incident comparable to Chernobyl, with Kyiv and Moscow accusing each other of targeting the plant.
Russia’s foreign ministry issued a statement after the phone call saying Lavrov and Colonna “discussed in detail the situation around the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant and the opportunities available for organising a visit to the station by an IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) mission".
According to the statement, Lavrov said Ukraine “continues to shell the largest nuclear power plant in Europe and the territory adjacent to it, exposes the entire European population to the danger of a nuclear catastrophe."
The IAEA, the UN’s nuclear watchdog, also issued a statement Tuesday deploring the latest shelling on Saturday and Sunday at the site, saying further damaged had been caused.
IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi said: “I’m continuing to consult very actively and intensively with all parties so that this vital IAEA mission can take place without further delay."
It would “help stabilise the nuclear safety and security situation at the site and reduce the risk of a severe nuclear accident in Europe."
“The mission is expected to take place within the next few days if ongoing negotiations succeed," Grossi said.
Last week, presidents Vladimir Putin and Emmanuel Macron called for a rapid independent inspection at the atomic plant that was seized by Russia in March in the early days of the military campaign in Ukraine.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has urged the UN to secure the site.