The head of Ukraine’s nuclear energy provider says the company has received information that Russian forces may be preparing to leave the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.
“We are now observing signs that the Russian invaders may be preparing to leave,” Petro Kotin, the head of Energoatom, said in a statement Sunday.
“First of all, a lot of publications began to appear in the Russian media that the Zaporizhzhia NPP should perhaps be left alone, perhaps it should be handed over to the (International Atomic Energy Agency) for control,” Kotin said in an interview with Ukrainian media Sunday. “It’s like, you know, they’re packing and they’re stealing whatever they can find.”
The IAEA has not released any information supporting Kotin’s statement, and CNN has reached out to the UN nuclear watchdog for comment.
The head of Energoatom emphasized that “it is still too early to say that the Russian military is leaving the plant,” but that they are “preparing.”
Kotin also claimed that Russians “crammed everything they could into the Zaporizhzhia NPP site — both military equipment and personnel, trucks, probably with weapons and explosives,” and that they mined the territory of the plant.
Remember: Zaporizhzhia is home to Europe’s largest nuclear power facility, which provided up to 20% of the country’s electricity before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began in February. It has been under Russian control since March.
The plant and the area around it, including the nearby city of Enerhodar, have endured persistent shelling that has raised fears of a nuclear accident through the interruption of the power supply to the plant. Russia and Ukraine blame each other for the shelling.