Zelensky: UN to Ensure Russia Leaves Nuclear Plant Amid Disaster Fears 

President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine will meet with the UN secretary general, António Guterres, and the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, in Lviv later on Thursday. 

The leaders are expected to discuss grain shipments, negotiations on a political settlement to the war and concerns about the nuclear power plant occupied by Russian forces.

Guterres has said he wants a demilitarized zone established around the Zaporizhzhia plant, which is the largest nuclear plant in Europe. It comes amid growing fears of a looming disaster. 

Russian state media have accused Ukraine of planning a “provocation” at the nuclear plant to coincide with the UN leader’s trip. This immediately raised fears that Russia’s military could be planning a “false-flag attack”. 

When Guterres traveled to Kyiv in April, Moscow carried out an airstrike on the city.

On Wednesday, the Nato secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, warned Russia’s seizure of the plant had “raised the risk of a nuclear accident or incident”, and accused Moscow of being “reckless” by using the area as a staging platform to launch artillery attacks on Ukrainian forces.

Stoltenberg called for a Russian withdrawal and inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency. The Ukrainian foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, said he had spoken to the UN nuclear watchdog and that it was ready to lead a delegation to the plant.

There are two massive issues causing deepening concerns about the situation. 

First is international nuclear safety officials, who are concerned over a lack of spare parts, access to routine maintenance, and contact with staff, all of which have been disrupted. 

A second issue is around shelling near the plant. 

On Friday, Guterres will travel to Odesa, a crucial Black Sea port to that Ukraine exports grain out of to the rest of the world. He will then go to Turkey to meet with the Joint Coordination Center, which is tasked with overseeing the unblocking of the ports.

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