Rosenergoatom positively assesses the refusal of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) from the idea of establishing a demilitarized zone around the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant. This was stated by the adviser to the general director of the concern Renat Karchaa.

"I don't know, the eyes have opened, finally, a sense of reality has come to the minds of the leaders of this international institution ... In the negotiation process, we have moved away from unrealistic, non-working conditions that simply impede the achievement of the mechanism for creating a security zone. This is the main thing, "he told the TV channel "Russia 24".

Earlier, IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi announced the rejection of the concept of a demilitarized zone around the ZNPP. He made such a statement at a seminar at the American non-governmental Council on Foreign Relations.

"We are not talking about a demilitarized zone. We are well aware that this will create additional difficulties. Especially in areas where active hostilities are being conducted, it will be extremely difficult to create, control and implement something like this in practice, (after all. - RT) just one mile from the demilitarized zone will be located an extremely militarized zone. So we're not considering that option... We would like to move on to the concept of making commitments, and commitments that can be verified. We have our own people there who will monitor the fulfillment (of obligations. - RT) not to attack the nuclear power plant, and also not to use the nuclear power plant to plan the attack, "Grossi said.

Renat Karchaa, in turn, recalled that Kiev immediately began to link the creation of a security zone with demilitarization. Russia opposed such conditions, since any weakening of the Russian grouping in these territories would allow Kiev to launch an attack on Enerhodar and ZNPP.

  • Advisor to the General Director of Rosenergoatom Concern Renat Karchaa
  • RIA Novosti

"We immediately said that demilitarization for us is something incomprehensible, provocative and carries risks and threats of weakening our positions," he said.

According to him, Moscow advocated an end to any shelling of the station and the city of Enerhodar by the Armed Forces of Ukraine. At the same time, Russia insisted not only on Ukraine's refusal to shell, but also on guarantees for the implementation of this decision, since Kiev has long demonstrated the absence of any readiness to fulfill its obligations, Karchaa noted.

Protective zone

Recall that the Zaporizhzhya NPP came under the control of Russia at the initial stage of the SVO. Later, when the Zaporizhzhya region became part of the Russian Federation as a result of the referendum, the station also officially came under Russian jurisdiction. Currently, it is under the management of the "Operating Organization of the Zaporizhzhya NPP" established by Rosenergoatom.

However, the Ukrainian side throughout 2022 did not stop trying to seize the ZNPP and regularly shelled the territory of the station and Enerhodar.

The IAEA decided to intervene in the situation, which planned to act as an intermediary between Moscow and Kiev to normalize the situation around the nuclear power plant.

In September, Rafael Grossi visited the IAEA delegation to the ZNPP, after which several agency employees remained at the station as observers.

  • Rafael Grossi
  • AP
  • © Heinz-Peter Bader

In the report on the results of the visit, the IAEA proposed to establish a safety zone around the station. Subsequently, in November, the agency's Board of Governors called on Russia to withdraw the military from the ZNPP.

However, for the Russian Federation, such a plan was unacceptable. As Konstantin Vorontsov, deputy head of the Russian delegation at a meeting of the First Committee of the UN General Assembly, explained in October 2022, the demilitarization of the territory of the ZNPP would lead to a decrease in the degree of its protection and "an increase in the threat of committing terrorist acts, as well as the emergence of conditions for a counteroffensive of the Armed Forces of Ukraine."

Another option for resolving the situation around the nuclear power plant, which was also discussed by the parties with the participation of the IAEA, is the creation of a protection zone.

As Mikhail Ulyanov, Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to International Organizations in Vienna, explained earlier, the key parameters of such an agreement should be the absolute inadmissibility of attacks on ZNPP by any means, a ban on conducting hostilities from the territory of the station, a guarantee of non-deployment of heavy weapons and ammunition for them, as well as ensuring nuclear and physical security measures to prevent a nuclear incident.

Ulyanov also added that the Russian Federation supports the concept of a protective zone. At the same time, he stressed that the implementation of this idea requires the support of not only the Russian, but also the Ukrainian side.

"From Kiev, in fact, only one thing is required: to confirm that the Ukrainian armed forces will not carry out shelling of a peaceful nuclear facility. But the Ukrainian side avoids such confirmation in every possible way. This is alarming," the diplomat said.

As Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on March 9, the parties were close to signing an agreement on a protective zone, but Kiev blocked this initiative.

"We actively cooperated with the Director General (IAEA. —RT). The agreement was close, but Kiev blocked it, which puts forward preconditions for prisoners of war and demilitarization of the so-called," Lavrov said.

At the same time, Ukraine continues its provocative activities around the ZNPP. So, in early March, the acting governor of the Zaporizhzhya region, Yevhen Balitsky, said that the Armed Forces of Ukraine were firing on the infrastructure and power lines near the ZNPP. And on March 22, International Atomic Energy Agency observers received information about Kiev's possible disconnection of the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant from the last backup 750 kV power line, allegedly for its maintenance and repair.

Renat Karchaa stressed that the disconnection of the ZNPP from the last power line will be a blow to the safety of the station. He added that in this case, the nuclear power plant will have to be transferred to power from diesel generators.

As explained by the leading analyst of the National Energy Security Fund Igor Yushkov, for the normal functioning of the nuclear power plant must have an external power supply.

"Although the station generates electricity, it must also have an external power supply, because the cooling system works on this electricity. If this cooling system is not available, then the reactor will heat up uncontrollably, the fuel will melt, which can lead to the same accident as at Fukushima, "the analyst said in a conversation with RT.

Yushkov said that at the moment "the main external energy supply system of the ZNPP comes from the territory controlled by Kiev."

"Avoid disaster"

According to the expert of the International Institute for Humanitarian and Political Studies Vladimir Bruter, the idea of demilitarization of the ZNPP is untenable, since the territory of the station is under constant threat of attack by the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

  • The building of the pumping station, damaged by shelling on the territory of the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant in Enerhodar
  • RIA Novosti
  • © Konstantin Mikhalchevsky

"The Zaporizhzhya NPP is a critical infrastructure facility, a very dangerous object from the point of view of environmental protection. It should not be left unguarded. Even if Ukraine does not attack him tomorrow, it will attack the day after tomorrow, "the expert said in a conversation with RT.

He drew attention to the fact that Russia left at the nuclear power plant only those armed forces that are necessary for its protection.

"The Russian Federation did not deploy heavy weapons, shock troops at the station, there are exactly as many forces as necessary for protection. Russia cannot afford to remove them from there, because it is dangerous from all points of view, "Bruter notes.

He also added that Ukraine actually refuses to discuss "any agreements around the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant, except for demilitarization."

In turn, Igor Yushkov believes that Kiev by "demilitarization" implies that "Russia simply must leave the station: remove the paramilitary guards and all its representatives from there."

"Ukraine considers any agreements around the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant exclusively from the point of view of improving its position and seizing the ZNPP with minimal losses for itself. Therefore, they take into account only those options that involve the withdrawal of the Russian military from there. Kiev thus simply wants to squeeze the Russian Federation out of this territory. Of course, Russia will not agree to such a scenario, "the analyst argues.

Because of this position of the Ukrainian side, negotiations with the participation of the IAEA have not yet brought results, Yushkov stated.

"The negotiations were inconclusive, because Russia and the IAEA tried to find options that would protect the ZNPP and its employees and help to avoid a man-made disaster. And Kiev sought to create the most favorable conditions for its offensive in this direction, "the expert says.

According to Vladimir Bruter, under these conditions, a full-fledged normalization of the situation at the ZNPP is impossible and the parties can only agree on minimizing the risks for the station. At the same time, Igor Yushkov believes that in the current circumstances, one of the options for solving the problem may be to stop the operation of the ZNPP.

"To minimize the risks of a nuclear accident, it is necessary to stop the operation of the station, to take all power units to a "cold stop" (NPP units stop and cease to maintain their readiness for launch. - RT), as well as to remove spent and unprocessed nuclear fuel from there. It is important to put nuclear safety at the forefront," Yushkov concluded.