President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy met with Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Rafael Mariano Grossi who is on a visit to Ukraine.
The Head of State stressed that today, on the 36th anniversary of the Chornobyl accident, it has to be said that the world is once again one step away from catastrophe due to Russia's actions.
"For the Russian military, the Chornobyl zone and the station were allegedly normal territory for hostilities. A territory where they did not even try to take care of nuclear safety," Volodymyr Zelenskyy said during a meeting with media representatives following the meeting.
The President noted that the level of the nuclear threat provoked by Russia was discussed during the meeting with the IAEA Director General.
"No other country in the world since 1986 has posed such a major threat to nuclear security, to Europe and the world, that Russia has posed since February 24. Russia kept a contingent in the Chornobyl zone with armored vehicles, which destroyed the soil surface and raised an extraordinary amount of dust into the air, including radioactive particles," the President stressed.
In addition, according to the President, the occupiers destroyed the dosimetric control points and looted the radiation monitoring system.
"In the Chornobyl zone, the Russian occupiers looted and destroyed a nuclear analytical laboratory on the territory of the Chornobyl nuclear power plant. For the Russian military, the Chornobyl zone and station were a military bridgehead, just as the bridgehead is now the territory of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant. There is also a risk of catastrophe from Russia's launch of cruise missiles that fly over nuclear power plant units," Volodymyr Zelenskyy said.
He stressed that given the level of threat, the reaction to Russia's actions was extraordinary, and that country has no right to turn nuclear energy into weapons, as well as to blackmail the world with nuclear weapons.
"All this must be punished. We hope for the full support of the IAEA and the entire international community in our efforts to ensure nuclear safety in Ukraine, in Europe in the context of the Russian war and Russia's complete disregard for radiation safety requirements," said the President.
Volodymyr Zelenskyy noted that the world must stop nuclear blackmail by Russia and restore the fundamental principles of nuclear safety and peaceful use of nuclear energy.
"We also have to work together to address a number of critical issues that were discussed today. This is a question of depriving Russia of disproportionate representation in the IAEA. I am convinced that our state has the right to be represented in the IAEA Board of Governors. We also raised the issue of Russia compensating for all the damage caused to our nuclear facilities," the President stressed.
According to the President, Ukraine has proposed an initiative to deploy peacekeepers to ensure the security of the Zaporizhzhia NPP.
“In no case can this station be transferred to Rosatom's control. We discussed all the acute issues of nuclear security that arose due to Russia's aggression against Ukraine and as a result of nuclear blackmail, which Russia has consistently resorted to during the war," said Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
The President reminded that on the night of March 4, when the Russian occupiers seized the Zaporizhzhia NPP, he held talks with the leaders of the partner countries.
"We called everyone, we wanted a tough reaction from the world. We warned everyone that there could be a new nuclear catastrophe at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, which is like six Chornobyls, and that it could simply destroy Europe. We also spoke with Mr. Grossi that today we expect from the world, from its leaders, from the IAEA a firm, decisive position, an effective response that will ensure Ukraine's control over the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant," said the President.
He stressed that Ukraine will hold a dialogue with its IAEA partners and insist on measures to restore nuclear security in Europe and around the world.
For his part, Rafael Mariano Grossi said that today, on the 36th anniversary of the disaster, he visited the Chornobyl nuclear power plant, where he thanked the employees of the station for their work, courage and professionalism.
"We could not imagine that this path would take us where we did not expect to end, that it is not over and that tragic events will continue in this area," he said.
The IAEA leader stressed the importance of further cooperation and support for Ukraine in difficult times.
"My task, among other things, is to ensure that the country's nuclear power plants, which are important in the world in terms of electricity supply, are not threatened. That is why the IAEA is in Ukraine and will continue its work. Today, we agreed to provide assistance and special work to restore the capacity of the damaged infrastructure," said Rafael Mariano Grossi.