Kyiv Claims IAEA Team Misled after UN Says Moscow Kept Them Safe

Ukrainian officials claim the IAEA team of inspectors visiting this morning the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station were manipulated and given distorted information by Russian officials, The Guardian reported.

In a statement published on Energoatom’s Telegram channel Thursday morning, the Ukrainian state-owned operator of the Russian-held power plant accused Russian officials of making every effort to prevent the IAEA mission from getting to know the real state of affairs at the facility.

The company said that IAEA officials were given manipulative and false information and were convinced by the Russians that not combat units of the Russian army, but radiological, chemical, and biological protection troops were at the station.

Energoatom’s claims came in light of the UN Secretary-General’s chief spokesman Stephane Dujarric’s statement noting the UN is glad for the Russian Federation’s efforts to keep safe the IAEA team.

With his statement, Dujarric responded to the Russian Defense Ministry’s earlier criticism of the lack of UN reaction to the alleged Ukrainian attempt to seize the nuclear power plant by force and to use the IAEA team, including the organization’s head, Rafael Grossi, as a human shield.

Following the highly publicized inspection, the IAEA chief left a team of five inspectors at the facility stressing that the UN nuclear watchdog will have a continued presence at the plant noting, however, that it’s not entirely clear what that continued presence might look like. 

Grossi believes that the prolonged presence of the IAEA mission there would protect the facility from a potentially dangerous nuclear accident.

Ukrainians are also dissatisfied that IAEA showed no sign of addressing the issue of demilitarization of the area around the nuclear power plant – since such a move would be beyond the agency’s limited mandate – though President Volodymyr Zelensky has been quite vocal in demanding that.