At Russia’s request, on August 24th the UN Security Council will hold a special meeting on Ukraine. Moscow seeks a solution to the continued threat posed to—and by—Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhya nuclear power station. Its forces have held the facility since March, shortly after the February 24th invasion.
As reported by Reuters, it was the Russian state-owned news agency RIA, which broke the news first. They received word about it directly from the Deputy Ambassador to the UN, Dmitry Polyanskiy.
In recent weeks, the nuclear power plant, Europe’s largest, has found itself dangerously close to the frontlines. Repeated shelling close by raised the specter of nuclear disaster, evoking memories of the 1986 nuclear meltdown which took place at the plant in Chernobyl.
During a joint call on Sunday, U.S. President Joe Biden, French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged that the safety of Ukraine’s nuclear sites be ensured. They also called for inspectors to be allowed to visit the plant as soon as possible.
Ukrainian officials say Russia is blithely ignoring such heedings, and has again begun shelling areas near the plant. Russia meanwhile does not deny it has a troop presence at and near the plant, but has denied Ukraine’s claims. Instead, Moscow blames Ukrainian forces, which Kyiv disputes in turn.
After last week’s diplomatic talks—held in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv—between Ukraine, the UN and Turkey, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky had agreed to conditions for a mission by the International Atomic Energy Agency to the nuclear plant.
Afterwards, with at least tacit support by UN chief António Guterres, Zelensky told a throng of reporters that Russia should immediately withdraw its forces from the plant and the general area. While Russia had initially shown itself to be in favor of sending in inspectors to review the site’s security, it fully rejected the suggestion of abandoning the plant.
Back in New York from his diplomatic mission to Ukraine, on Monday António Guterres warned about the various challenges to global stability. “Today’s collective security system is being tested like never before,” he said, urging a stop to “nuclear saber-rattling.”
While pointing out “lingering differences between the world’s great powers,” all represented at the UN Council, which “continue to limit our ability to collectively respond” with humanitarian assistance stretched to the breaking point, while human rights and the rule of law “are under assault,” he noted that trust is “in short supply.”