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Live updates: Russia’s war in Ukraine

Russia’s Governor to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Mikhail Ulyanov, attends the IAEA Board of Governors meeting at the IAEA headquarters in Vienna, Austria, on March 7. (Askin Kiyagan/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Moscow welcomes the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) planned trip to Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in southeast Ukraine, which is occupied by Russian forces, a Russian diplomat said according to state media. 

Russia’s permanent representative to international organizations in Vienna, Mikhail Ulyanov, said that Russia understands the IAEA will leave several representatives at the plant on a permanent basis, state media RIA Novosti reported. 

“As far as we understand, it is the director general’s intention to leave several people at the station on a permanent basis,” Ulyanov said, according to RIA. 

Ulyanov added that the mission consists “of about a dozen employees of the agency’s secretariat dealing with safeguards and nuclear safety issues” as well as a large team of UN staff dealing with logistics and security RIA reported. 

“Russia has made a significant contribution to the preparation of this mission. We hope that the visit of the plant by the IAEA mission will dispel numerous speculations about the unfavorable state of affairs at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant,” Ulyanov added.

What’s happening? Early on Monday, the head of the IAEA, Rafael Mariano Grossi, tweeted that the delegation would arrive in Zaporizhzhia — home to Europe’s biggest nuclear facility — “later this week.”

The Kremlin said Monday that the IAEA’s mission will enter the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant from the Ukrainian side, but Russia will ensure its safety on the territory occupied by the Russian army.

As far as the territory controlled by Russia is concerned, security will be provided at the required proper level there,” Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told journalists on a regular conference call. 

“[The mission] will enter the [nuclear plant] territory from the zone controlled by the Ukrainian Armed Forces. There, security will be provided by the Ukrainians,” Peskov added.

When asked about the possibility of creating a demilitarized zone around the plant, Peskov said it was “not under discussion.”

Peskov added that Russia welcomes the long-awaited IAEA mission. 

“We have been waiting for this mission for a long time. We consider it necessary,” Peskov said.

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