Russia has indicated it wants to isolate Ukraine from Europe’s largest nuclear power plant if Kyiv does not pay Moscow for electricity.
The Zaporizhiya plant was occupied by Russian troops after President Vladimir Putin’s special military operation in Ukraine began on February 24.
“If Ukraine is ready to take over and pay for its energy, then (the plant) will work for Ukraine. If not, then (the plant) will work for Russia,” Russian Deputy Prime Minister Marat Khusnulin said during a visit. The region on Wednesday, Russian news agencies reported.
His remarks came after Russian officials hinted that Moscow wanted to stay in southern Ukraine, which controls much of the region, such as the Kherson region and Zaporizhia.
“We have a lot of experience working with nuclear power plants, we have companies in Russia that have this experience,” Khusnulin said.
He said there was “no doubt” the Zaporizhiya plant would remain operational.
Ukraine’s nuclear agency Energoatom said on Thursday that the plant would continue to feed the national power grid.
Energoatom spokesman Leonid Olinik told AFP that the Russians “do not have the technical capacity to supply power to Russia or Crimea from the Zaporizhiya nuclear power plant.”
“It will cost and time … and in a month or two we will have everything under Ukrainian control again,” he added.
The future with Russia
Alynik says Russia does not have the power to cut off Ukraine’s electricity supply, because “Ukraine controls all relevant equipment.”
In 2021, before the outbreak of the conflict, the plant was responsible for one-fifth of Ukraine’s annual electricity production and about half of the electricity generated at the country’s nuclear power plants.
In early March, Russian troops took control of a plant in the town of Enerhoda, separated from the regional capital Zaporizhia by the Dinipro River, which is still under Kiev’s control.
Conflicts at the Chernobyl plant began in the early days of the conflict, in 1986 when a nuclear reactor at the Chernobyl plant exploded, raising fears of a possible nuclear catastrophe.
Khusnulin further hinted that Russia was there to stay.
“I consider working in the future friendly Russian families in the region. That is why I am here to help unify as much as possible,” he said.
Russian officials and Moscow-appointed authorities said last week that the Ukrainian territory of Kherson – which provides landmass in the attached Crimean peninsula – would likely become part of Russia.
When launching the Ukraine campaign, Putin assured that Russia does not want to occupy Ukrainian territory.
(Except for the title, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and was published from a syndicated feed.)