G-7 ministers demand Russian withdrawal from Ukraine nuclear power plant
The foreign ministers of the Group of 7 (G-7) countries on Wednesday warned that the Russian military occupation of a Ukrainian nuclear power plant raised the risk of a dangerous nuclear accident.
The statement came after damage to the facility drew condemnation from international atomic officials.
In a joint statement, the G-7 foreign ministers demanded Russia hand back full control of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, located in the southeast of the country along the Dnieper River, while also demanding Russia withdraw its troops from Ukraine.
Shelling near the nuclear power plant in recent days damaged some of the facilities and injured a security guard, according to Ukrainian officials. It is unclear if the shelling came from Russian or from Ukrainian forces, who have been trying to push out the Russian military since it invaded the country in February.
The G-7 foreign ministers said Russia’s occupation of the nuclear plant endangers the region.
“We remain profoundly concerned by the serious threat that the seizure of Ukrainian nuclear facilities and other actions by Russian armed forces pose to the safety and security of these facilities, significantly raising the risk of a nuclear accident or incident and endangering the population of Ukraine, neighboring states and the international community,” the G-7 foreign ministers, representing, the U.S., Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the European Union, wrote.
Ukrainian forces raised alarm on Saturday that alleged Russian shelling injured a Ukrainian security guard at the plant and damaged a dry spent fuel storage facility, but the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said that available radiation measurements continued to show normal levels.
Previous shelling had damaged the plant’s external power supply system.
The G-7 foreign ministers further said that Russia’s occupation of the plant “undermines the IAEA’s ability to monitor Ukraine’s peaceful nuclear activities for safeguarding purposes.”
United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres had earlier said that “any attack to nuclear plants is … suicidal.”
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said on Tuesday the White House is closely monitoring the situation at the Zaporizhzhia plant. She said officials have seen no indications of increased or abnormal radiation levels, but called on Russia to return the plants “full control to Ukraine.”
“For our part, we will continue to support the efforts of the International Atomic Energy Agency to fulfill its technical safeguards mandate to assist Ukraine with nuclear safety and security measures across its nuclear facilities.”