UN investigators visit Europe’s largest nuclear plant in Ukraine

Members of International Atomic Energy Agency mission stand by UN vehicles before heading to Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant [Gleb Garanich/Reuters]

Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant went offline, Russian-appointed authorities claim

Europe’s largest nuclear plant has stopped supplying Ukrainian-held territories with electricity as a team of inspectors from the UN nuclear watchdog continued their mission at the site on Saturday.

The Moscow-appointed city administration in the Russia-occupied Enerhodar, where the Zaporizhzhia plant is located, blamed an alleged Ukrainian shelling attack on Saturday morning, which they said had destroyed a key power line.

“The provision of electricity to the territories controlled by Ukraine has been suspended due to technical difficulties,” the municipal administration said in a post on its official Telegram channel. It was not clear whether electricity from the plant was still reaching Russian-held areas.

Over the past weeks, Ukraine and Russia have traded blame over shelling at and near the plant while also accusing each other of attempts to derail the visit from UN experts, who arrived at the plant Thursday. The International Atomic Energy Agency’s mission is meant to help secure the site.

Ukraine said on Friday it had struck a Russian base in Energodar, the city where the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, which is occupied by Russian troops, is located. 

“In the localities of Kherson and Energodar, precise strikes by our troops destroyed three enemy artillery systems, as well as an ammunition depot,” killing many Russian soldiers, the Ukrainian army said in a statement. 

The Ukrainian army also claimed that the Russian forces had evacuated “all their military equipment from the site of the plant” before the arrival of the IAEA mission, several of whose members have remained at the plant.

The Zaporizhzhia power plant, the largest in Europe, fell to Russian troops in March, shortly after Moscow launched its invasion of Ukraine, and its site was targeted by several bombardments raising fears of a nuclear disaster.

Both Kyiv and Moscow reject responsibility for those strikes.