Russia’s Atomic Grab in Ukraine Corners International Monitors

Russia’s Atomic Grab in Ukraine Corners International Monitors


Russia’s plunder of the biggest nuclear power plant in Europe risks undercutting efforts to establish a security zone around the reactors and has narrowed the room for diplomacy with international monitors, according to analysts.

Article content

(Bloomberg) — Russia’s plunder of the biggest nuclear power plant in Europe risks undercutting efforts to establish a security zone around the reactors and has narrowed the room for diplomacy with international monitors, according to analysts. 

Advertisement 2

Article content

International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi is meeting Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday in St. Petersburg, where the two are expected to discuss nuclear safety concerns around the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, according to a Kremlin statement.  

Article content

Russia claimed ownership over the plant — home to six reactors built to supply a fifth of Ukraine’s electricity — last week as part of a wider “annexation” of occupied territory in Ukraine in a move condemned by the United Nations. Moscow also told the plant’s Ukrainian staff to reapply with Russian state-owned atomic energy company Rosatom to keep their jobs.

The theft of the site is complicating IAEA talks to create a safety zone around the plant after repeated attacks cut power and water supplies, forcing the reactors to shut down. 

Advertisement 3

Article content

“The risk is that if the IAEA makes a deal with Russia that enables improvement of security and safety around the plant, the agency could appear to be legitimizing Russian claims of sovereignty over the territory,” said the Berlin-based Carnegie Endowment for International Peace analysts Mark Hibbs. 

Grossi has been shuttling between European capitals in an attempt to advance his agency’s proposed security zone around Zaporizhzhia. 

Russian forces captured the plant during the first week of the war and have been there ever since. Attacks against the station have increased since July, with both sides blaming each other. 

“He’s right asking both sides to exercise restraint,” said Tariq Rauf, a former policy director at the agency. But ultimately nuclear safety and security are the sole responsibility of states, and the IAEA’s rulebook doesn’t give Grossi the power to impose a demilitarized area around the plant, he said. 

Advertisement 4

Article content

IAEA guidelines recommend a 30 kilometer (18.6 mile) perimeter to separate military activities from nuclear power plants in times of peace. But with modern rockets and artillery capable of hitting targets potentially much further away, those standards are insufficient in the context of Ukraine, Rauf said.

Ukraine’s nuclear utility also accused Russia’s military of kidnapping the plant’s human resources director, Valeriy Martyniuk, with the goal of pressuring him for information about Ukrainian employees and getting them back to work.

“We appeal to the IAEA Director General Raphael Grossi and the entire world community to take all possible measures for the immediate release of Valeriy Martyniuk,” the utility, Energoatom, said in a statement. “The arbitrariness of the invaders at Zaporizhzhya NPP must be stopped as soon as possible.”  

Advertisement 5

Article content

Allowing Russia to retain ownership of Zaporizhzhia, known as ZNPP, would represent the biggest nuclear heist in history. The plant would cost at least $40 billion to replicate.

“We call on the member states of the IAEA to restrict cooperation in the framework of any projects with Russia that resorts to undisguised nuclear blackmail,” Ukraine said in an Oct. 7 diplomatic note circulated in Vienna. “We expect a clear position and proactive role in these issues of the IAEA Director General.”

Grossi, who met with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy last week, is expected to return to Kyiv for more negotiations after meeting Putin. 

Advertisement

Comments

Postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively but civil forum for discussion and encourage all readers to share their views on our articles. Comments may take up to an hour for moderation before appearing on the site. We ask you to keep your comments relevant and respectful. We have enabled email notifications—you will now receive an email if you receive a reply to your comment, there is an update to a comment thread you follow or if a user you follow comments. Visit our Community Guidelines for more information and details on how to adjust your email settings.

Quoted from Various Sources

Published for: Ipodifier