Thursday, 11 August 2022 — Internationalist 360°
Statement by Permanent Representative Vassily Nebenzia at UNSC briefing regarding the attacks of Ukrainian armed forces on the Zaporozhye NPP (agenda item “Threats to international peace and security”)
We thank Mr.R.Grossi, Director-General of the IAEA, for his briefing.
We repeatedly warned our Western colleagues that if they do not call the Kiev regime to reason, it will go for most atrocious and reckless actions that will have implications far beyond the Ukrainian borders. Unfortunately, this is what we see happening now. Heinous attacks by Kiev against nuclear facilities push the world onto the brink of a nuclear disaster, the scope of which would be comparable to that of the Chernobyl tragedy.
Lately, Ukrainian armed forces have used heavy artillery and multiple launch rocket systems against the biggest nuclear power plant in Europe – the Zaporozhye NPP. Those attacks pose a direct threat to safety and security of the plant.
On 5 August, a strike damaged energy and gas supply infrastructure that was critical for the operation of the ZNPP. The strike hit pipelines, which resulted in the ignition at the hydrogen hub and disabled a high-voltage power transmission line. I underscore that the UAF fired at the NPP during the shift change. Apparently, it was done in order to frighten the personnel, who are all Ukrainian citizens, prevent them from going to work and thus undermine the normal functioning of the facility.
On 6 August, the UAF attacked the ZNPP with cluster munition. Shell fragments hit the area where a storage facility for spent nuclear fuel and a station for computer-assisted monitoring of the radiation situation were located. A staff member of the monitoring station was injured.
A shelling by the UAF on 7 August caused a voltage surge in the NPP’s electricity grid. The attack damaged the equipment which triggered an automatic shut-off of the power transmission line. At Unit 4 of the Zaporozhye NPP (which was working to 10% of its total capacity), power supply of the safety systems stopped, however emergency protection worked properly. Ukrainian personnel of the plant had to stop one of the three working Units, and switch over the others to 50 % of full capacity.
Massive UAF strikes against the suburbs of Energodar caused more than 40 disruptions of electricity transmission lines, which left the city without energy supply. There are casualties among the residents of Energodar, many of whom are employed at the ZNPP. What’s most appalling is the fact that some of the attacks happened at night when people were sleeping.
Today, armed forces of Ukraine continued attacking the Zaporozhye NPP and the city of Energodar. Strikes were launched from heavy artillery and MLRSs located on the Dnieper’s right bank, from the territory of Dnepropetrovsk region, settlements Nikopol, Marganets and Tomakovka that are controlled by Kiev. As reported by the regional administration, UAF target concrete-protected storages of radioactive waste. So far, Kiev has not been able to hit them and inflict any serious damage. At this moment, radiation levels at the ZNPP are normal. But if the shelling persists, changes to those levels will only be a matter of time. We regularly send letters of information to the IAEA Secretariat which detail the situation and these incidents.
Developments at the ZNPP these days are the climax of Kiev’s criminal actions against nuclear infrastructure and personnel servicing nuclear facilities. For months, those actions have been left without any international reaction.
From April to July, Kiev has committed a number of provocations against the ZNPP with the help of combat UAVs, i.a. of Polish manufacture. Part of them could be downed. Another part – explosive-laden drones – detonated in the vicinity of critical infrastructure. Only by a lucky chance this did not interfere with the routine operation of the plant.
Back in February, Ukrainians seized four Russian experts who were escorting a delivery of nuclear fuel to the Rivne NPP. They were subjected to intimidation and pressure – in line with the classic methods from the toolkit of terrorist groups.
On 9 March, Ukrainian saboteurs blew up the electric line that supplied energy to the spent nuclear fuel cooldown system at the Chernobyl NPP. Only thanks to the efforts of Russian military a major breakdown could be avoided. Diesel generators were turned on promptly and energy supply was resumed – via alternative transmission line from the territory of Belarus. The saboteurs also blew up the only bridge that connected the plant to the settlement where its personnel held residence. Shift staff was not able to go to work for a long time, during which they were being brainwashed by Ukrainian special services, who threatened them with reprisals for cooperating with the “occupants”. In the meantime, Kiev shed “crocodile tears” and reported to the IAEA that Russian military allegedly impeded rotation of the shifts at the NPP.
These days New York is hosting the 10th NPT Review Conference, where representatives of the Kiev regime, supported by some other delegations, address cynical and absurd allegations to my country regarding attacks on the Zaporozhye NPP. Western media eagerly replicate this propagandist narrative. All of this contradicts the common sense, because the ZNPP is controlled by the Russian forces. Primitive logic can tell you that our military do not have any reasons to fire either at the NPP or the city or themselves.
On 4 March, Western states already called a Security Council meeting regarding the situation around the ZNPP, during which they tried to present a sabotage by Ukrainian forces – setting a nearby training center on fire – as a result of actions by Russian military, even though the plant was under their full control at that moment. Back then, USG DiCarlo said that attacks on nuclear facilities violated international humanitarian law. British representative said that international law called for special protection of nuclear facilities. US representative said that the world had avoided a nuclear disaster only by the grace of God, that attacking the NPP had been an irresponsible step, that conflicts must never affect nuclear facilities. French representative said that safety and security of the NPP had to be maintained. Are you ready to repeat this now and address it to the Ukrainian side? Are you ready to call on Kiev to stop the bombardments?
Let me emphasize that each time the UAF struck the ZNPP, a disaster could only be avoided thanks to selfless actions of the personnel of the plant and Russian military servicemen, who rendered them timely and comprehensive assistance. Whenever necessary, fire squads and emergency response teams, as well as our military work hand in hand. This proves that our military and Ukrainian experts have established absolutely normal communication.
From the very start, we supported the IAEA efforts aimed at ensuring safety and security of Ukrainian nuclear facilities. The seven principles articulated by Director-General Grossi were supposed to become the basis for a trilateral document to be elaborated by Russia, Ukraine, and the IAEA. We were being flexible and agreed to have this arrangement as two parallel agreements – Russia-IAEA and Ukraine-IAEA. However, Kiev rejected this without providing any intelligible reasons why. Actually, those are easy to guess. When doing this, Kiev already plotted to disturb the normal functioning of the Zaporozhye and Chernobyl NPPs and accuse Russia of it.
We carefully observe the mentioned seven principles and do our best to let IAEA representatives make sure of that themselves.
On 3 June, Russia and the leadership of the IAEA Secretariat agreed on the route and schedule of an IAEA international mission to the ZNPP. IAEA Director-General Grossi planned to lead this mission that would bring together outstanding experts from a number of states. The mission was supposed to address purely technical tasks, with would let the IAEA meet its mandate, namely – assess the situation at Europe’s biggest NPP and do the physical inventory as stipulated by the Safeguards Agreement.
We engaged closely with the Agency to solve a multitude of complicated issues to make this arrangement, which is far not easy in current circumstances. However at the very last moment, the Department of Safety and Security of the UN Secretariat turned on “the red light”, which undermined the trip. The Kiev authorities were quick to use this development in order to intensify their provocations and shelling of the ZNPP.
We are convinced that cancellation of an international mission played in the hands of the Kiev regime and its Western sponsors who had been initially opposed to that visit. They did not want the IAEA to make sure that the Zaporozhye plant functioned routinely and that the working environment among the personnel was normal.
Still we trust that IAEA experts will visit the ZNPP soon, and hope that in the current situation, the UN Secretary-General will be fully aware of his responsibility and will not interfere with this mission through a department of the UN Secretariat that is accountable to him or through other parts of the UN mechanism.
On our part, we are ready to render maximum assistance in resolving all related practical issues. We believe it justified that IAEA representatives should arrive at the ZNPP as soon as possible, maybe even before the end of August.
However not everything depends on us. We can give no guarantees that the mission will take place. It is hard to say what Ukrainian leadership is up to now, after they have been targeting the ZNPP for several days in a row, despite the fact that the Secretary-General called any attacks on nuclear facilities suicidal.
It is unacceptable that the IAEA mission should take place against the backdrop of incessant shelling of the power plant and the city of Energodar by Ukrainian armed forces. Kiev must stop the shelling now and guarantee that it is not going to put the lives and health of international personnel at risk.
We call on the states that support the Kiev regime to check their proteges, make them stop attacking the ZNPP and residents of Energodar once and for all, as well as ensure safe working conditions for an IAEA mission. We urge the top officials of the United Nations and IAEA to demonstrate their leadership and global responsibility and indicate clearly and without diplomatic courtesies the real source of the threat to the safety and security of the ZNPP, which is strikes by Ukrainian armed forces, and also tell Ukrainian authorities that such actions are unacceptable. This is the only way to prevent a major radioactive disaster on the European continent, the risk of which is real today as never before. If the attacks by the UAF continue, this may happen at any moment. Then the Kiev, Zaporozhye, Kharkov, Poltava, Kherson, Odessa, Nikolaev. Kirovograd, and Vinnitsa regions of Ukraine, as well as territories of the People’s Republics of Donetsk and Lugansk, and adjacent territories of Russia and Belarus, as well as Moldova, Bulgaria and Romania will be exposed to risks of radioactive contamination. And this is the most optimistic outcome that experts can predict, whereas the real scale of a nuclear disaster at the Zaporozhye power plant is hard to even imagine. In such case, the entire responsibility for that will befall Kiev’s Western sponsors.
Right of reply:
None of our Western colleagues dared to call things by their real names today. I mean the fact that Ukrainian armed forces are recklessly shelling the Zaporozhye NPP. It turns out that only Russia has created risks there. Do you mean that shelling of a nuclear power plant by the UAF is a response to the risks created by Russia? This is a surreal and flawed logic, though it is not something we would not expect .
For half a year by now, we have been watching not just a disinformation war, but a war of lies being fought against us.
Our Western colleagues have long adopted what they believe to be a failproof tactic when discussing whatever it is related to Ukraine. They all claim that Russia is responsible for everything happening in the combat zone. They always reject any (even hypothetical) guilt of Kiev. This was the case with the provocations in Bucha, Irpen, and Kramatorsk. By the way, why does no one mention Kramatorsk anymore, where a MLRS strike killed more than 50 people at a railway terminal? I tell you why. No one mentions it because the terminal was hit by Ukrainian projectiles “Grad” marked with UAF serial numbers, and this fact cannot be refuted.
In its recent report, Amnesty International, which can hardly be suspected of any pro-Russian sentiment, confirms what we have been saying at every UNSC meeting on Ukraine since the beginning of our special military operation. The report says that UAF and Ukrainian nationalist battalions use civilians as a human shield, set up gun posts in residential buildings and apartments, place heavy equipment and artillery in the vicinity of hospitals, schools, and kindergartens. Look what indignation it caused in the West! How dared Amnesty International to accuse the Ukrainian side of anything? Paraphrasing a famous proverb, of Kiev say nothing but good. Instead of calling things by their real names, you demonstrate blatant double standards and work wonders of resourcefulness in order to cast no shadow on Kiev, whose guilt for the shelling is obvious. This is where your recklessness shows itself. You prove unable to assume responsibility for global problems if this does not meet your egoistic geopolitical interests.
In the case with the ZNPP, we clearly saw how Western minds were producing their vision of the events. Who is responsible for the bombardments? Of course Russia is. We have heard those clumsy statements. Today, however, you spared us those nonsensical allegations that are too absurd to be spoken by adult respectable people in this chamber. But we marvel at the lack of responsibility of European political elites, who, in their unconditional and irrational support of Kiev, are ready to put at risk lives of their people. One may wonder if those elites have enough common sense.
Colleagues, we urge you to convey to your leaders that they need to influence the Kiev regime and make it stop its reckless shelling of the Zaporozhye NPP. Basically, those bombardments are taking residents of European states as hostages, and the responsibility for that rests upon you.
We note with regret that the UN Secretariat is unable to give a sound assessment to the situation. We hear claims, i.a. from the Secretary-General, that “the NPP may be subjected to an attack or become a base for launching attacks”, we also hear calls to “demilitarize” the ZNPP.
Russia does not use civilian infrastructure, to say nothing of nuclear facilities, for military purposes. This is the tactic of Ukrainian armed forces who set up combat positions in the vicinity of civilian objects and use civilians as a human shield.
The Russian military guard the ZNPP, rebuffing the attacks of the Kiev regime. As I said, this is done in coordination with the personnel of the power plant. Thanks to their efforts, key infrastructure of the NPP is protected so far, which helps prevent a nuclear disaster. But we are well aware what the Kiev regime is capable of, and the world could also see it. Those who propose a withdrawal of Russian troops should realize that in such case, this facility would be left unprotected and prone to be used by Kiev and nationalist groups for most heinous provocations.
In response to the representative of Ukraine:
I do not intend to engage in controversy with the representative of the Kiev regime. Nor do I plan to react to the flows of conscience and flows of lies that he exposed us to. Speaking about the IAEA mission that the Kiev regime undermined back in the day, I would refer you to our statements, where everything is clearly said. But there is another aspect that I want to underscore. Representative of the Kiev regime was the only one today who claimed that Russia is bombarding the Zaporozhye NPP, a facility that is under the Russian control, and the city of Energodar, which is home to the personnel of the NPP. I want to draw your attention to this claim by the Ukrainian side for the record.
Remarks to the Press by Permanent Representative Vassily Nebenzia following the UNSC meeting regarding the attacks of Ukrainian armed forces on the Zaporozhye NPP (agenda item “Threats to international peace and security”)
Q: Russia and Ukraine are accusing each other of shelling. But both of you want the IAEA to visit [the Zaporozhye NPP]. What happens now?
A: I am not sure that Ukraine wants that visit of IAEA as much as we do, although they claim the opposite. We had an opportunity to have the IAEA visit the ZNPP as early as at the beginning of June. And we made everything possible to make the conditions for that visit. But it did not happen because of the position of Kiev and its Western sponsors at that time, and also the position of the UN Secretariat who cited security reasons and concerns.
What is happening now is an obvious thing. Today even Kiev’s Western sponsors did not dare to say what they initially tried to assert – that Russia allegedly was shelling its own personnel, which was guarding the NPP and the city of Energodar. They refrained from doing that. Of course, they demonstrated the miracles of resourcefulness when trying to not call a spade a spade. Still, they did not mention that. Only Ukrainian representative said that it was Russia shelling the NPP which it is controlling.
Q: Does Russia consider the NPP to be a civilian object?
A: A nuclear power plant is a civilian object. That is why Russia is guarding it to prevent it from being damaged, because we know what the consequences would be. We warn about potential consequences that will occur if one day the shelling of the power plant leads to leakage of radioactive materials.
Q: So Russia is guarding the ZNPP and not setting up a military base, right?
A: We do not use the tactics that Ukrainian armed forces are using. They use civilian objects as a cover-up for their military, I would say. Recently, Amnesty International proved it in a report. It confirmed what we say at every UNSC meeting. And you see what happened to Amnesty International after that. Now it is being harassed for having produced that report.
Q: Why has Russia seized the ZNPP?
A: To ensure and safeguard its continued operation, which it does. The plant produces electricity and exports it as it used to before.
Q: What do you think of the proposal of the Secretary-General for a de-militarized zone?
A: I spoke about it at the session. To demilitarize the NPP would mean to make it prone to whoever wants to visit it, so to say. What their purposes and aims would be nobody knows. In this case, we cannot exclude provocations or terrorist attacks on the NPP, which we have to preserve.
Q: How can you make it for IAEA inspectors then?
A: It depends on the Ukrainian side. First of all, they should stop their reckless shelling.
Q: Can I ask a question on JCPOA? Do you think there is any time left?
A: I hope that we will finally be able to seal the deal. We know that the proposal is on the table and that the parties are discussing it. That’s all I can say.
Q: What do you think is holding Iran from accepting it?
A: I would rather not dwell onto the details of negotiations that I am not part of. But each party has interests that it wants to safeguard to ensure best possible conditions of the deal.
OF THE RUSSIAN FEDERATION TO THE UNITED NATIONS
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