Conflict over nuclear power plants: Breathe easier in Zaporizhia

Russian troops could soon leave the nuclear power plant. Because an agreement is in sight.

Two nuclear reactors in the distance

Zaporizhia nuclear plant: For a long time the world trembled that things could escalate here Photo: Leo Correa/AP/dpa

KYJIW taz | Possibly the Russian troops will do that later this year Zaporizhia nuclear power plant leaving. At least that’s how the Ukrainian and Russian media interpret an interview with the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Rafael Mariano Grossi Italian newspaper Republica. Grossi speaks of a solution for the nuclear power plant, which will probably be achieved by the end of the year.

According to Grossi, the two sides have already agreed on some basic principles of an agreement. “The withdrawal of weapons from the power plant is what the Ukrainians understandably demand. And it would still be part of the General Agreement,” Grossi said in the interview.

The IAEA chief also praised the fact that Ukraine and Russia had agreed not to fire at or from the nuclear power plant. Nevertheless, Grossi avoided the question of who was responsible for the shots at the nuclear power plant. According to Grossi, it is not his job to assign responsibility. His job is to prevent a nuclear accident.

had in March Russian troops attacked and occupied the nuclear power plant. On October 3, the company “Organization for the operation of the Zaporizhia NPP” was registered in Moscow, which is now – from the Russian point of view – the operator of the NPP. And the Russian nuclear company Rosatom had forced most of the employees of the nuclear power plant to terminate their employment contract with the Ukrainian Energoatom and to work with the Moscow company, Ukrainian nuclear expert Olga Kosharna reports to the taz.

Russian export of ammonia is under discussion

There is much to suggest that the Russians at the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant are already sitting on their packed suitcases. So had the oppositional Russian medium Meduza reported by indications of a Russian withdrawal from the nuclear power plant. Russia would withdraw its arms and soldiers from the nuclear plant in exchange for guarantees that it would continue to export oil and gas through Ukrainian territory Meduza reported.

About the Druzhba pipeline Russia supplies oil to Hungary, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Poland through Ukraine.

It might be better, nuclear expert Kosharna told the taz, if Russia were guaranteed to export ammonia instead. That is also under discussion. At the end of November, the Reuters news agency reported, representatives of Russia and Ukraine met in the United Arab Emirates and discussed the possibility of an exchange of prisoners and a guarantee for the export of Russian ammonia through Ukrainian territory. Ammonia is used in the manufacture of fertilizers.

Alexander Musienko of Ukraine’s Center for Military Legal Issues welcomes a Russian-Ukrainian agreement under which Russia would withdraw from the nuclear power plant in exchange for guarantees on the export of energy sources.

Russia could remotely control nuclear power plants

But even if Russia were to withdraw its weapons and troops from the nuclear plant, that does not mean that Ukraine would immediately regain control of the nuclear plant. The Moscow company “Organization for the Operation of the Zaporizhia Nuclear Power Plant” will continue to try to control the nuclear power plant from a distance, Olga Kosharna fears in an interview with the taz. In addition, it is not clear who is currently authorized to run the nuclear power plant.

Ukraine has withdrawn the license from Yuri Chernichuk, who was previously the chief engineer of the nuclear power plant and has now signed a contract with Moscow. “There is currently no one in the management of the nuclear power plant,” says Koscharna, “who has a valid license for this task.” It is an unprecedented occurrence that a nuclear power plant is being managed by people who are not licensed to do so.

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