International Atomic Energy Agency officials fear fighting around Europe’s largest nuclear power plant could trigger a disaster. Inspectors arrived in Ukraine on Monday to check out the Zaporizhzhia complex for themselves.
IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi leads the team. They will examine the damage, assess the working conditions and check the safety measures.
The Ukrainian nuclear company operates the plant. But Russian troops have controlled the site since the first days of the invasion.
Satellite images revealed fires around the complex. Power to the complex was cut off, raising fears of a collapse. The latest images, from the American company Maxar Technologies, show several holes in the roof of a building next to the reactors.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said the mission would be the most difficult in IAEA history. He said that Russia not only puts Ukraine but also the whole world in danger of a nuclear accident.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Western countries had provided “inadequate and false” assessments of the situation. She said Russian authorities agreed to the inspection months ago.
White House officials want both sides to withdraw from the area around the plant. National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said a controlled shutdown would be “the safest and least risky option”.