MOSCOW, 15 (DPA/EP)
An official of the pro-Russian authorities of the Zaporiyia region, Vladimir Rogov, has rejected the request for the withdrawal of Russian troops from the nuclear power plant of the same name and has raised instead the possibility of agreeing on a cease-fire to avoid any incident due to the bombardments.
"The UN leadership and the EU chief diplomat should not talk about demilitarization, but about a ceasefire," Rogov said in statements to the Russian press.
A statement signed by 42 countries and the EU was published this Sunday demanding the "immediate withdrawal" of Russian troops occupying the Zaporiyia nuclear power plant so that the Ukrainian authorities "can resume their sovereign responsibilities within the borders of Ukraine recognized by the international community".
This will also enable the IAEA to perform its verification functions in accordance with Ukraine's obligations regarding the safe maintenance of the nuclear power plant.
The declaration is signed by the EU member states and also by the United States, the United Kingdom, Norway, Australia, Japan and New Zealand.
The Zaporiyia nuclear power plant, the largest in Europe, has been under Russian control since March, although Ukrainian personnel continue to maintain the facilities.
An IAEA inspection is pending, but the UN, Russia and Ukraine have failed to agree on an agenda for the visit. So far the UN has not authorized the visit of IAEA Secretary General Rafael Grossi, not only for security reasons but also because of disputes over his itinerary. Rossi could travel to the region via the Black Sea to the Moscow-controlled area in Crimea, which would be perceived as an affront by Kiev.
Ukraine accuses Russia of using the nuclear power plant as a bastion to fire on the towns of Nikopol and Marhanez, on the other side of the Dnipro River. Meanwhile, Russia denounces Ukrainian shelling of the plant using drones, heavy artillery and rocket launchers. On Sunday, both sides reported one death from shelling attributed to the opposing side.
Already on Monday, fighting has continued and Russia claims to have killed more than a hundred "foreign mercenaries" in the last 24 hours all over Ukraine. Among them are Germans and Poles, according to Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov.
In addition, Moscow has reported more than 420 Ukrainian servicemen killed in Russian attacks on Kherson in the south and Donetsk in the east, and the destruction of a Ukrainian command post near Bakhmut, a strategic enclave of Donetsk.
The governor of Kharkov, Oleh Siniehubov, has denounced Russian missile shelling of industrial facilities and infrastructure in the region, although he did not report any injuries or deaths. In addition, the General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces reported a Russian attack repelled in Soledar and Bajmut. There have also been Russian attacks north of Sloviansk and near Vuhledar.