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Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant safety zone ‘must stop Ukraine shelling,’ Russia says.

Click to play video: 'Putin says ‘no sense’ in mobilizing additional troops for service in Ukraine'

WATCH: Putin says 'no sense' in mobilizing additional troops for service in Ukraine

The Russian Foreign Ministry said on Thursday that the main goal of a proposed safety zone around the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine was to “stop Ukraine shelling” the facility, while Kyiv said Moscow was storing advanced weapons on the site.

Both Moscow and Kyiv have accused each other of shelling the plant and risking a potentially catastrophic nuclear accident at Europe’s biggest nuclear power station.

The plant has come under repeated shelling since Russia seized it shortly after launching its invasion in February, prompting the United Nations nuclear watchdog – the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) – to call for a demilitarized safety zone around the plant.

Russia for months rejected the calls, but has since appeared to warm to the initiative, though the sides have failed to agree details of what a potential secure zone could look like. The IAEA hopes to have an agreement in place by the end of the year.

Ukraine has said Russia is using the site as a de facto weapons depot – charges repeated by Ukraine’s state nuclear energy company Energoatom on Thursday.

In a statement, Energoatom said Russia had brought multiple rocket launchers to the site which it had stationed near the plant’s power unit No. 6. It said Russia planned to use them to launch attacks against Ukrainian positions and bridges on the western bank of the Dnipro river.

Reuters was unable to independently verify the claims.

Russia seized the plant in the first days after it invaded Ukraine, but it has been operated by Ukrainian staff. In October, Putin issued a decree transferring the plant and all Ukrainian employees from Energoatom to a subsidiary of Russia’s state nuclear energy corporation, Rosatom. Kyiv said the transfer of assets amounted to theft.

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