KYIV, Ukraine — After a string of Ukrainian military successes in the south, the Kremlin sought Monday to dampen speculation that Russian forces would withdraw from the Zaporizhia nuclear complex, as President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman said Moscow had no plans to end its military occupation of the country’s largest nuclear power plant. Europe.
Spokesperson Dmitry S.
Peskov’s comments came after some pro-Russian military bloggers wrote posts suggesting that Russian forces would withdraw from the area, and after Ukrainian officials said there were indications that Russia was taking steps to leave the facility.
Russian forces seized the Zaporizhia plant shortly after invading Ukraine in late February, and deployed military forces and equipment there. Withdrawal from the station would represent another setback for the Russian forces in the region Mr. Putin sought annexation illegally.
On Sunday, Petro Kotin, head of Ukraine’s state nuclear energy company, Energoatom, said there were indications that Russian forces were “packing up and stealing everything they can find” at the Zaporizhzhia complex, though he stressed there was no evidence that forces had I’m already starting to withdraw.
In recent weeks, Ukrainian forces have scored a string of victories in southern Ukraine, including recapturing the key city of Kherson on November 11. But military analysts said there were no immediate indications they were threatening Russia’s hold on the plant, which is located on the eastern bank of the Dnipro River, about 100 miles northeast of Kherson.
Instead, the reports from Russian military bloggers – Militant, pro-invasion group Suggesting concerns about Moscow’s ability to hold the plant and it could be an attempt to “prepare the information space for a final Russian withdrawal” from Zaporizhzhia, the Institute for the Study of War, a research group that tracks the conflict, she wrote in her daily analysis on Sunday.
The nuclear plant — which supplied 20 percent of Ukraine’s electricity before the war — has gone from crisis to crisis since Russian forces seized the facility on March 4. It disconnected from Ukraine’s power grid on multiple occasions, forcing it to use diesel generators for important cooling functions. Ukrainian employees working at the factory, whose numbers had shrunk by more than half, reported being detained and abused by Russian soldiers. Eyewitnesses also accused the Russian forces of planting mines in and around the factory.
After a team of inspectors from the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency visited the plant in September, the head of the agency, Rafael Mariano Grossi, called for the creation of a safe demilitarized zone around the facility to reduce the risk of nuclear catastrophe.
Ukraine supported the proposal, as did representatives of the European Union and the United States. Russia has resisted the idea, with its foreign ministry recently saying it would “make the power plant more vulnerable.”
Mr. Grossi said he has raised his concerns with both Mr. Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, telling CBS News, “60 minutesLast week: “Until we protect this plant, the possibility of nuclear catastrophe exists.”
On November 20, the day the interview aired, more than 10 explosions rocked the factory. Energoatom said Russian forces were responsible for the blasts and targeted infrastructure needed to produce electricity in Ukraine. Russia blamed Ukraine for the factory bombing.
Repeated waves of Russian missile attacks on Ukraine’s power grid infrastructure have led to widespread and prolonged power outages in almost every corner of the country. Millions now live with universal but controlled blackouts for long periods of the day and night.
Last week, a flurry of Russian missile strikes forced the country’s four nuclear power plants to shut down for the first time in Ukraine’s history. The stations have since been reconnected to external power.
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