Ukraine: Damage to nuclear power plant ‘would be suicide’, says UN chief



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he head of the UN has said he is “gravely concerned” about fighting near a nuclear power plant in Ukraine as he warned damage would be “suicide”.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told reporters of his concerns for the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant after a summit in Ukraine on Thursday with the presidents of Ukraine and Turkey and called for military equipment and personnel to be withdrawn.

He warned: “Any potential damage to Zaporizhzhia is suicide”.

“The facility must not be used as part of any military operation. Instead, agreement is urgently needed to re-establish Zaporizhzhia’s purely civilian infrastructure and to ensure the safety of the area,” Mr Guterres said.

There have been unconfirmed reports of staff at the plant working at the gunpoint of Russian troops.

The comments came in Mr Guterres’ first meeting with President Volodymyr Zelensky since April.

Russia captured the plant in southern Ukraine soon after the February 24 invasion, and the surrounding area has come under artillery fire, for which both sides have blamed the other.

Ukrainian service members observe an area at a position near a frontline in Zaporizhzhia region

/ REUTERS

Moscow had earlier rejected international calls for a demilitarised zone as “unacceptable”.

Kyiv has accused Russia of using the plant as a shield for its forces to launch strikes on Ukrainian-held cities, which Russia denies.

President Zelensky said after the meeting that he and Mr Guterres had agreed parameters for a possible mission to the plant by the UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Although the plant is in Russian hands, it is still being run by Ukrainian scientists.

Meanwhile, 17 people were killed and 42 wounded in two separate Russian attacks on the northeastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, the regional governor said on Thursday.

AFP via Getty Images

Five rockets hit the city early on Friday killing at least one person, he said.

At least four explosions also hit near a major Russian military airport on the Moscow-controlled Crimean peninsula on Thursday, according to reports.

The explosions were reportedly near Russia’s Belbek military airport, north of the Black Sea fleet’s headquarters in Sevastopol.

Sevastopol governor Mikhail Razvozhayev, writing on Telegram, claimed Russian anti-aircraft forces downed a Ukrainian drone and no damage occurred.



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