Accusations fly between Ukraine and Russia over Europe’s largest nuclear power plant. And the world is worried.

Kyiv and Moscow continued to accuse each other of bombings on Friday The largest nuclear power plant in Europestoking international fears of a disaster on the continent as Russian President Vladimir Putin said independent inspectors should visit the Zaporizhzhia plant “as soon as possible”.

“The Russian side has confirmed that it is ready to provide the inspectors of the (International Atomic Energy) Agency with the necessary assistance,” the Kremlin said in a statement after a call between Putin and French President Emmanuel Macron – their first call in almost three months, according to AFP. reports the news agency.

“The two presidents will discuss this subject again in the coming days following discussions between the technical teams and before the deployment of the mission,” said a French reading of the call.

Previously, Nikolai Patrushev, the secretary of the Russian Security Council, had accused the United States of encouraging Ukrainian attacks on the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine. The facility is controlled by Russian forces shortly after the start of the invasion on February 24.

“In the event of a technological disaster, its consequences will be felt in all corners of the world,” Patrushev said. “Washington, London and their accomplices will take full responsibility.”

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said on Friday that the presence of Russian troops at the plant actually guaranteed that a “Chernobyl scenario” would not unfold there, the agency reported. Reuters press.

Ukraine has accused Russia of stockpiling troops and weapons at the Zaporizhzhia plant and using its land to launch strikes against Ukrainian-held territory. Ukrainian officials and military analysts say Moscow forces cynically used the plant as a shield, knowing the Ukrainians would be reluctant to retaliate.

Russia denied the charges and, in turn, accused Ukrainian forces of repeatedly bombing the plant.

Meanwhile, Ukraine’s state nuclear company Energoatom said on Friday that Russian troops planned to disconnect the plant from Ukraine’s power grid, according to Reuters. In a statement, Energoatom said it believed Moscow was preparing to carry out a “full-scale provocation” there.

An overview of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, outside the town of Enerhodar in the Zaporizhzhia region,
An overview of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, outside the Russian-controlled town of Enerhodar in Zaporizhzhia region, Ukraine, in a photo released August 18, 2022.

Russian Defense Ministry/Handout via REUTERS

Moscow said on Thursday that Kyiv was setting up a “provocation” at the factory.

After a visit to Ukraine on Thursday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Zelenskyy had asked him to ensure that Russia removes the weapons stored in the factory as an “important step for world peace”.

“Zelenskyy asked us for this in particular: that Russia remove all mines and similar (weapons) there and that the issue quickly ceases to be scary. Because it is a threat,” Erdogan said.

Erdogan, whose country has close ties with Ukraine and Russia, said he would discuss the issue with Russian President Vladimir Putin, saying “Russia must do its part in this regard.”

Turkey’s president made the comments to a group of Turkish journalists after returning from a visit with Zelenskyy and UN Secretary-General António Guterres to Ukraine on Thursday evening. His comments were reported on Friday by Turkey’s state-run Anadolu agency and other media.

Elsewhere, at least five people were killed and 10 others injured by Russian shelling of towns and villages in the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine, according to regional authorities. The shelling has damaged residential buildings and civilian infrastructure in the besieged region where Russian forces are pushing to retake areas still held by Ukraine.

And at least one civilian died on Friday morning in the Russian bombardment of the city of Kharkiv, in the northwest of the Donetsk region, while Russian missiles in the southern port city of Mykolaiv again struck port facilities and a university building which had already been hit by shelling earlier. this week. One person was injured in the attacks, authorities said.

Pamela Falk contributed to this report.

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