Day 178: Putin Agrees to IAEA Experts at Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Plant; Drone Hits Russian Navy Headquarters in Crimea
In a call with French Pres. Emmanuel Macron on Fri., Russia's Vladimir Putin agreed to send experts from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the UN's nuclear watchdog, to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine.
- In a call with French Pres. Emmanuel Macron on Fri., Russia's Vladimir Putin agreed to send experts from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the UN's nuclear watchdog, to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine, statements from the offices of both presidents were confirmed.
- The Zaporizhzhia plant – Europe's largest with six nuclear reactors – was captured by Russian forces on Mar. 4 and has since been the target of sporadic rocket attacks that Russia and Ukraine have traded blame for. Both countries have also alleged the other side was planning false-flag operations in recent days. The office of the French pres. said Macron and Putin will agree on technical details and a timeline of the IAEA deployment "in the next few days."
- Meanwhile, UN Sec. General António Guterres called on Russia to not cut off the Zaporizhzhia plant from the Ukrainian power grid following reports Russia is seeking to divert the energy to Crimea. "Obviously, the electricity from Zaporizhzhia is Ukrainian electricity and it's necessary – especially during the winter – for Ukrainian people. And this principle must be fully respected," he said.
- In Crimea, Ukrainian forces launched a further attack on the peninsula after a drone flew into the headquarters of the Black Sea Fleet of Russia's navy in Sevastopol on Saturday. The attack, in Crimea's largest city, came after local officials reported late on Fri. that Russian air defence systems were activated in Yevpatoria and Sevastopol, shooting down an unspecified number of drones flying over the cities.
- Ukrainian forces also struck the city of Melitopol in the region of Zaporizhzhia, captured by Russia in the first days of the war, according to the city's exiled mayor Ivan Fedorov. A Russian military base was reportedly struck.
Sources: Newsweek, CNN, Ukrinform, and Pravda.
- Pro-establishment narrative, as provided by NewScientist. Experts have made it clear – the situation at Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant presents the risk of another Chornobyl. Nuclear disaster has, miraculously, been avoided so far, but continuing risks the safety and effectiveness of staff to control the reactors could have catastrophic consequences.
- Establishment-critical narrative, as provided by Politico. Although Zaporizhzhia's cooling systems will be relatively vulnerable due to their contact with the outside world, the worst-case scenario would only cause serious damage at a local level. Both Russia and Ukraine are overstating the risk of nuclear catastrophe to galvanize domestic support for the invasion and play upon Western fears to incentivize providing military and public support respectively.