NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg (file photo)
The head of NATO has urgently called on Russia to allow inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency to visit Ukraine's Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant amid rising safety concerns at the facility due to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
Stoltenberg also told journalists in Brussels on August 17 that Russia should immediately withdraw all of its troops from the plant, which Russian forces captured in March.
Russia's seizure of the plant "poses a serious threat to the safety and the security of this facility (and) raises the risks of a nuclear accident or incident," he said.
"It is urgent to allow the inspection by the International Atomic Energy Agency and to ensure the withdrawal of all Russian forces," he added.
Kyiv has insisted that Russian troops are using Europe's largest nuclear plant as a military base, including storing dangerous weapons and shelling in the area.
On August 14, 42 countries condemned Russia's unprovoked invasion of Ukraine and said the presence of Russian military forces at Zaporizhzhya was preventing authorities from maintaining nuclear- and radiation-safety obligations.
Exhausted Ukrainian workers at the plant have complained of being held at gunpoint, and the plant's operator, Enerhoatom, has said Russia is preparing a risky maneuver to divert Zaporizhzhya's energy production to a Russian-controlled grid.
Russia doesn't deny it has troops located at the plant but has disputed claims it has shelled the area. Instead, Moscow blames Ukrainian forces for firing artillery shells in the area, which officials in Kyiv deny.