G7 countries call on Russia to hand back Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant to Ukraine

G7 nations have condemned Russia’s occupation of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant and called on Moscow to “immediately hand back its full control” to Ukraine, media reports said.

Ukrainian staff operating the plant “must be able to carry out their duties without threats or pressure. It is Russia’s continued control of the plant that endangers the region”, the G7 foreign ministers said in a statement, BBC reported.

“The Russian Federation must immediately withdraw its troops from within Ukraine’s internationally recognised borders and respect Ukraine’s territory and sovereignty,” it said.

The G7 have said they remain “profoundly concerned by the serious threat” posed by Russia’s actions around Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, BBC reported.

They said the actions of Russia’s armed forces are significantly raising the risk of a nuclear accident or incident and endangering the population of Ukraine, neighbouring states and the international community.

The G7 reiterate their “strongest condemnation” of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which they call an “unprovoked and unjustifiable war of aggression”.

They said Russia’s actions also undermine the ability of the International Atomic Energy Agency to monitor the safety of nuclear activities in Ukraine, BBC reported.

The latest attack marks an escalation in an already tense situation in the region around the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, in southern Ukraine.

Valentyn Reznichenko, the head of the Dnipropetrovsk regional administration, said Russian forces used Grad missiles to hit Marhanets, a town near the city of Nikopol, overnight.

Russian forces, he said, fired 80 rockets that were “directed at residential areas”, “deliberately and sneakily hitting people when they were sleeping in their homes”, BBC reported.

Apartment blocks and administrative buildings were damaged, he added, and several thousand people were without power. Russia hasn’t commented, but it denies targeting civilians.

Nikopol sits on the Dnipro river opposite the Zaporizhzhia complex, Europe’s largest nuclear power plant which has been under Russian occupation since early March.

Ukrainian officials say Russia has turned the site into a military base, launching attacks from there knowing that Ukrainian forces are unlikely to retaliate with force because of the risk of a nuclear accident, BBC reported.

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