Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said he had approved the parameters of a possible International Atomic Energy Agency mission to the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant after repeated shelling of the complex raised fears of a nuclear catastrophe.
At a press conference on Thursday in Lviv after a trilateral meeting with the Turkish President and the UN Secretary-General, Zelenskyy said “only absolute transparency and control of the situation” by the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), among others. , could ensure nuclear safety.
It was not immediately clear whether Russia would agree to the parameters.
The Ukrainian leader also reiterated a call for Russia to immediately withdraw its forces from the nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine and end all military activities in the region.
Concerns about the facility grew on Thursday as Russian and Ukrainian authorities accused each other of planning an attack on the facility and then blamed the other side.
Kyiv and Moscow have exchanged allegations about several recent shelling incidents at Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, which Russian forces captured earlier in the war.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has expressed concern about the upsurge in military activity in Zaporizhia. “We don’t want another Chernobyl,” he said.
UN chief Antonio Guterres also expressed deep concern about the situation at the facility and said it needed to be demilitarized. “We have to say it like it is – any potential harm to Zaporizhia is suicide,” he said.
The Secretary General also called for the demilitarization of the area around the huge nuclear power plant. “The facility must not be used as part of a military operation. Instead, an agreement is urgently needed to restore Zaporizhia’s purely civilian infrastructure and ensure the area’s security,” he said.
IAEA chief Rafael Mariano Grossi repeatedly called on both warring parties to work together so that his agency could carry out a reconnaissance mission and check the safety of the plant.
Erdogan supports negotiations to end the war
The Lviv meeting is seen as an opportunity for the UN and Turkey to start testing the possibility of a negotiated settlement between Kyiv and Moscow.
Erdogan, in Ukraine for the first time since Russia invaded on February 24, insisted the war should be resolved through diplomatic channels and renewed his offer to act as mediator.
“We stand ready to act as a mediator or mediator to revive negotiations,” he said. “It is crucial to find the shortest and fairest route to the negotiating table.”
Zelenskyy ruled out peace with Russia unless Russia withdraws its troops from Ukraine.
Zelenskyi told reporters he was “very surprised” to hear from Erdogan that Russia was “ready for some kind of peace,” adding: “First they should leave our territory, and then we’ll see.”
Boost grain exports ahead of winter
Thursday’s talks, held near the Polish border, also addressed pressing concerns over the global food crisis sparked by the disruption to grain exports from Ukraine.
Developing countries are particularly hard hit by shortages and high prices, and the UN has declared several African countries at risk of famine.
Guterres touted the success of a Turkey-UN-brokered deal between Ukraine and Russia that saw exports resume this month, but added it would take time for its impact to be felt by “the people of their local bakery and at their markets”. .
“We will do our best to expand our operations for the coming winter,” added Guterres.
Erdogan said they had discussed the exchange of prisoners of war between Ukraine and Russia and that he would later raise the issue with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“We attach great importance to this question … what happened to the exchange of these prisoners,” Erdogan said.
Earlier this month, Guterres launched a fact-finding mission into an incident in Ukraine’s frontline town of Olenivka that killed prisoners held by Moscow-backed separatists.
Both Russia and Ukraine have called for an investigation.
Guterres said the terms of the mission and the composition of the team were shared with Russia and Ukraine, both of which must agree to it. He said he intends to appoint Brazilian General Carlos dos Santos Cruz to lead the investigation.