Moscow accuses Kyiv of 'nuclear terrorism'

Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant shelling could lead to disaster worse than Chernobyl, says top Russian official.

Moscow accuses Kyiv of 'nuclear terrorism'

Russia on Thursday accused Kyiv on the "nuclear terrorism," claiming that Ukrainian shelling of the territory of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant could lead to a disaster worse than the notorious 1986 Chernobyl accident.

On Wednesday, the G-7 and EU voiced concern over the threats posed by Russia's possession of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, urging Moscow to hand over the war-torn country's nuclear facilities to the government in Kyiv.

The Zaporizhzhia station is Europe's largest nuclear power plant, producing around 20% of Ukraine's electricity.

On March 4, the Russian forces captured the facility with key strategical importance after they attacked Ukraine on Feb. 24.

Ivan Nechaev, a Foreign Ministry spokesperson, said reports about the proposal of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea to send its volunteers to participate in Russia's "special operation" in Ukraine is fake, adding that no such negotiations are ongoing.

Nechaev also said the calls of a number of countries to stop issuing Schengen visas to Russians is "an open manifestation of chauvinism."

"Switzerland, having joined the sanctions, has lost the status of a neutral state, therefore it cannot represent the interests of Kyiv in the Russian Federation," he told the reporters.

On Wednesday, Ukrainian Foreign Ministry spokesman Oleh Nikolenko said his country reached an agreement in principle with Switzerland on the representation of Ukrainian interests in the territory of Russia.

He also underlined that the recent US decision to allocate another package of military assistance to Kyiv "only delays the fighting."

Iranian nuclear deal

Nechaev stressed that Moscow notes the focus of all countries, including the US, on the speedy return to the implementation of the Iranian nuclear deal.

"A positive result in the negotiations on the restoration of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action is quite possible, there are no unresolvable issues between the parties," he said.

The nuclear deal was signed in 2015 by Iran, the US, China, Russia, France, the UK, Germany, and the EU.

Under the agreement, Tehran committed to limit its nuclear activity to civilian purposes and in return, world powers agreed to drop their economic sanctions against Iran.

Trump’s withdrawal in 2018, with the US re-imposing sanctions on Iran, prompted Tehran to stop complying with the nuclear deal.

The EU, as the coordinator of the deal, has made significant efforts to get Iran and the US back to the negotiating table since the beginning of the conflict.

Recent Karabakh tensions

Speaking on the recent heightened tensions in Azerbaijan's Karabakh, Nechaev said Moscow is in constant contact with the Armenian and Azerbaijani sides on the situation around Karabakh.

He emphasized that Moscow considers criticism of the work of Russian peacekeepers in the region as "unjustified."

Last week, Azerbaijan said it launched a retaliatory operation against Armenian forces in the Karabakh region after Armenia opened fire and killed an Azerbaijani soldier, according to its Defense Ministry.

Armenia has accused Azerbaijan of violating the fall 2020 agreement that ended the 44-day Karabakh War, with Azerbaijan dismissing the charge as "nothing but mere hypocrisy."

Azerbaijan has decried Armenia’s failure to fulfill the provisions of the agreement, particularly how Armenian armed forces have not yet fully pulled out of Azerbaijani territories.

Relations between the former Soviet republics have been tense since 1991 when the Armenian military occupied Nagorno-Karabakh (Upper Karabakh), a territory internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan, and seven adjacent regions.

After new clashes during the fall of 2020, Azerbaijan liberated several cities and over 300 settlements and villages occupied by Armenia for almost 30 years.

The fighting ended in November 2020 with a Russia-brokered deal.