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Russia warns NATO summit to discuss Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant given most allies in 'direct impact zone'

Russia’s Foreign Ministry warned Sunday that those attending the upcoming NATO summit in Lithuania this week should discuss the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, given “the vast majority of the alliance members will be in the direct impact zone” should any impending disaster occur at the facility. 

In a Telegram message, Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova accused Ukraine of plotting a “systematic infliction of damage” to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant – Europe’s largest – which is located in southeastern Ukraine and occupied by Russian troops.

“The NATO summit’s key attention should be devoted to it,” Zakharova wrote, according to Reuters. “After all, the vast majority of the alliance members will be in the direct impact zone.” 

Last week, Ukraine and Russia accused each other of planning an imminent attack against the plant. 

In a July 7 statement, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi said “experts have received additional access at the site of Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant, without – so far – observing any visible indications of mines or explosives.” 

President Biden will be among the NATO leaders planning to meet in Vilnius, Lithuania, located some 620 miles from the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, from July 11-12. The world’s biggest security alliance is expected to iron out agreements on admitting Sweden as its 32nd member as well as continued support for Ukraine. 

 Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant seen at a distance

The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, which is under Russian control, on July 7, 2023. (Anatolii Stepanov/AFP via Getty Images)

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Russian soldier at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant

A Russian soldier guards an area of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Station in territory under Russian military control, southeastern Ukraine, on May 1, 2022. (AP Photo, File)

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The U.N. atomic watchdog has repeatedly warned of the possibility of a radiation catastrophe like the one at Chernobyl, about 300 miles to the northwest, where a reactor exploded in 1986. The Zaporizhzhia plant has been shelled numerous times since the war began.

Regular power outages have made it impossible to operate the plant safely, and its six reactors have been shut down to minimize the threat of a disaster.

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