Preparations underway for IAEA visit to Zaporizhzhia plant

Arrangements are underway for a team of experts from the International Atomic Energy Agency to visit the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine, where continued bombardment raises fears of a serious accident.

The large nuclear power plant in southeastern Ukraine has been seized by Russian forces. Ukraine and Russia have blamed each other for Saturday’s attacks.

IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi hopes to lead the team to visit the factory this week.

Ukraine’s nuclear energy company, Energoatom, said plant personnel were under increased pressure from Russian forces not to talk about the military buildup.

Russian news agency Tass reported that Russian troops detained two Zaporizhzhia employees for allegedly passing information to the Ukrainian side.

The agency also said 26 employees have been detained since Russia took control of the plant in March.

It is believed that the Russian army is turning the factory into a base. All eyes are on whether the planned IAEA visit will help ensure the safety of the plant.

The Russian Defense Ministry said on Saturday that its troops had killed more than 200 Ukrainian soldiers in the eastern region of Kharkiv.

The ministry also said a missile strike destroyed a depot of US-supplied HIMARS rocket systems in the eastern Dnipropetrovsk region.

The human losses on the Russian side would be enormous.

President Vladimir Putin issued a decree last Thursday to increase the total number of soldiers in the country’s army from more than 130,000 to 1.15 million.

But Britain’s Ministry of Defense said on Sunday it was still unclear how “Russia will attempt to meet this increased allocation”.

The ministry also said that “the decree is unlikely to make substantial progress towards increasing Russia’s combat power in Ukraine.”