No Russian heavy weapons at nuclear site: Moscow
Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu revealed that the IAEA delegation will hopefully present the facts concerning the Zaporozhye power facility.
Russian armed troops, contrary to accusations by Kiev, are not using the captured Zaporozhye nuclear power facility for military objectives, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu declared on Friday.
He added that the International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA) ongoing mission would hopefully confirm this, he continued.
During a working conference, the Russian top defense official revealed that 29 strikes were launched against the Ukrainian plant in Energodar on July 18. He stated that 120 artillery shells and 16 kamikaze drones were employed.
Shoigu dismissed as “blatant lies” the Ukrainian claims that Russia was using the facility to attack Ukrainian positions “with long-range artillery systems”.
“I state with confidence that we do not have heavy weapons at the territory of the nuclear power stations and in adjacent neighborhoods,” the minister said. “I hope [members of] the IAEA inspection will confirm it with their own eyes.”
A delegation from the UN's nuclear watchdog arrived on Thursday at the station for a long-awaited on-site assessment. Ukraine's President Voldomyr Zelensky claimed that Russia was attempting to turn the mission "into a fruitless excursion," and he accused IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi of failing to secure access to the station for a group of "independent journalists" who wanted to accompany the Ukrainian inspectors.
“We hope that the mission will make objective conclusions from the situation at the plant nevertheless,” Zelensky said in a video address on Thursday evening.
He added that Ukraine’s goal was the “demilitarization” of the Zaporozhye site. Moscow earlier stated that it would not accept a complete withdrawal of soldiers from Energodar because it did not trust Kiev to do the same. The Russian Defense Ministry stated on Thursday that an amphibious commando operation thwarted a Ukrainian effort to capture the power station.
Kiev reports that Russia is behind the attacks on the factory, with the stated intention of "tarnishing Ukraine's reputation". It was also stated that Russian heavy weaponry was on the premises.
During the Friday meeting, Shoigu emphasized that by bombing the Zaporozhye plant, Kiev risks a nuclear tragedy. He accused the US and the EU of "hushing up" Ukraine's role, and "encouraging" Kiev to unleash additional strikes.
“All responsibility for possible emergencies caused by possible future provocations will lay on the Ukrainian authorities,” he warned.