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Russia, UN discuss power plant safety

China Daily | Updated: 2022-08-17 09:23

An apartment building in the Ukrainian city of Nikopol bears the scars of the conflict on Monday. KOSTIANTYN LIBEROV/AP

MOSCOW-Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu has discussed conditions for the safe operation of Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia nuclear power with United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, the Russian Foreign Ministry said on Monday.

In a phone call, Shoigu and Guterres also discussed initiatives to ease conditions for exports of Russian food products and fertilizers, the ministry said in a statement.

"In close cooperation with the agency and its leadership, we will do everything necessary for the IAEA specialists to be at the station and give a truthful assessment of the destructive actions of the Ukrainian side," said Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova, referring to the International Atomic Energy Agency.

The plant, Europe's biggest nuclear facility, was captured by Russian troops at the beginning of March, not long after Moscow launched its "special military operation" in Ukraine.

Since the end of July, Zaporizhzhia has been the target of a number of military strikes, with both Moscow and Kyiv accusing each other of being behind the shelling.

The fighting at the plant has triggered fears of a possible nuclear catastrophe and was the subject of an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council last Thursday.

The authorities in Ukraine, where parliament on Monday extended martial law for a further three months, have said for weeks they are planning a counteroffensive to recapture Zaporizhzhia and neighboring Kherson Province.

On Tuesday, during a speech at the Moscow international security conference, Shoigu reiterated that Russia had no need to use nuclear weapons in Ukraine.

Shoigu also said that Ukrainian military operations were being planned by the United States and Britain, and that NATO had increased its troop deployment in Eastern and Central Europe "several times over".

Even as the biggest conflict in Europe since 1945 grinds on, an arrangement enabling shipments of grain from Ukraine has held up.

The ship Brave Commander has left the Ukrainian port of Pivdennyi, carrying the first cargo of humanitarian food aid bound for Africa from Ukraine since Russia's military operation began in February, Refinitiv Eikon data showed on Tuesday. The Turkish Defense Ministry said five ships left Ukrainian ports carrying corn and wheat.

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday accused Washington of seeking to prolong the conflict in Ukraine.

"The situation in Ukraine shows that the US is trying to prolong this conflict. And they act in exactly the same way, fueling the potential for conflict in Asia, Africa and Latin America," Putin said in remarks as he addressed the opening of the security conference in Moscow.

Ren Qi in Moscow contributed to this story.

Agencies - China Daily

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