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Putin and Macron trade blame over Ukraine nuclear plant security

After a summit on Ukraine, French President Emmanuel Macron and Russian President Vladimir Putin hold a press conference at the Elysee Palace in Paris on 9 December, 2019.

Sunday’s (11 September) talks between Russia and France focused on safety at Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine. Vladimir Putin blamed Ukrainian forces, while Emmanuel Macron pointed fingers at Russian troops.

Global concern continues to grow about the conditions at Europe’s largest nuclear power plant. Russia and Ukraine accuse one another of attacking the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, thereby putting at risk a devastating radiation release.

Separate readings from the Russian Kremlin as well as the Elysee Palace of the French leader highlighted the difficulties involved in trying to reach an agreement to ensure safety at this site.

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According to a Kremlin statement: “The Russian side called attention to the regular Ukrainian attacks against the plant’s facilities, including radioactive storage which is fraught with devastating consequences.”

It demanded a “nonpoliticized interaction” regarding the subject with the participation by the International Atomic Energy Agency.

The French presidency stated that the plant was being threatened by Russian troops occupying it.

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“He (Macron), asked that Russian forces remove their heavy and lightweight weapons from it (Zaporizhzhia), and that the IAEA recommendations be followed to ensure safety at that site,” said the Elysee.

The IAEA requested that a security zone be created around the site.

The agency announced that a backup power line was restored to the plant on Sunday. This provided it with the electricity it needed to cool its reactors, and protect it against a meltdown. Energoatom, the state agency, had previously stated that it stopped operations at the plant to protect its safety.

The Elysee stated that Macron would continue to be in touch with Volodymyr Zelenskiy, the Ukrainian president. He will also speak with the director general of IAEA.

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