Rosatom admits helping seize Zaporizhzhia and Chernobyl NPPs

Rafael Grossi, director-general of the IAEA, citing a conversation with Alexei Likhachev, the corporation’s director-general, says that Russia’s Rosatom was involved in the seizure of the Chernobyl and Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plants.

Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant in the Zaporizhzhya region of Ukraine.

Officially, Rosatom uses the following approach in interpreting complicity in the seizure of the nuclear power plant: they say that several employees of the corporation only advise the Ukrainian staff and that Rosatom will not take over the management.

Petro Kotin, head of Ukraine’s Energoatom, stated that about 400 Russian servicemen “are on-site, full time” and confirmed that the Zaporizhzhia NPP remains under the control of the Russian military.

On March 4, Russian military forces seized Ukraine’s largest nuclear power plant, the Zaporizhzhya NPP, which houses six reactors. The plant’s full-time employees continue to operate the plant and perform routine work, while its management remains under the control of Russian military commanders.

On February 24, Russian troops took control of another nuclear facility in Ukraine, the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. In fact, personnel at both plants are being held hostage.

During a telephone conversation with IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi on March 12, Rosatom Director General Alexei Likhachev confirmed that a small number of Russian company specialists were at the Zaporizhzhia plant while denying that Rosatom had assumed operational control or intended to include the plant in Rosatom’s “management system.”

Also, the Russian Federation officially informed the IAEA that “the management and operation of the Zaporizhzhia NPP and the Chernobyl NPP are carried out by Ukrainian personnel, but a group of Russian specialists provides advisory assistance. The technical support identifies priority needs of the plants to ensure the safe and stable operation of the nuclear power units. In particular, the restoration of power supply at Chernobyl NPP and the physical protection system at Zaporizhzhia NPP are being carried out”.

Rosatom’s involvement in the takeover of Ukrainian nuclear power plants by force could result in severe sanctions against the corporation and the entire industry.