Former Secretary General of NATO Lord George Robertson reacted to Putin’s agreement to let international inspectors into Zaporizhzhia nuclear plat amid fears of radioactivity releases and said the move might suggest that common sense has now reached the Kremlin. Despite acknowledging that it is “difficult to trust anything that Russians say”, he assessed that Putin’s inspections concession at the nuclear plant might indicate that Russians are not going to anything aggressive at Zaporizhzhia as any damage would directly affect Russia and “take any radioactivity from Zaporizhzhia into the heartland” of the country.
Mr Robertson told Times Radio: “We can only judge them by what’s happened rather than their promises, but you know that grain ships are now leaving Odessa.
“In one way this is an illustration of the fact that common sense has penetrated into some areas of the Kremlin.
“The nuclear power plant here is also another one, which is a double edge sword for the Russians.
“If anything happened to that nuclear plant, it affects Russia as well.
“Prevailing winds would take any radioactivity from Zaporizhzhia into the heartland of Russia.
“There is a common interest involved here, and although it’s difficult to trust anything that the Russians actually say, what they’ve done in the past, especially over the grain ships from Odessa, does tend to suggest that they move to their own self-interest before they look at the international interest.”
Referring to the situation at the plant, he added: “It’s very worrying because the implications of a nuclear power plant being in the centre of a battle must concern all of us, but the United Nations is involved.
“The Russian have now acquiesced to the idea of International inspects getting to the side, and that must be of some reassurance to us that at least the Russians recognise the dangers that are involved here.
Following the call, the Kremlin said that Putin had agreed to let UN observers “with the necessary assistance” into the site as “both leaders noted the importance” of sending IAEA inspects to the plant to asses “the situation on the ground” amid fears of damages at the plant.
After the announcement, IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi welcomed the Russia move and said he was willing to run the inspection himself.
He said: “In this highly volatile and fragile situation, it is of vital importance that no new action is taken that could further endanger the safety and security of one of the world’s largest nuclear power plant”.
The nuclear plant is the biggest in Europe and it has been under continual Russian occupation since early March despite Ukrainian technicians still operating it under full Russian direction.
Ahead of Putin’s statement, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres also stressed the need for checks at the plant and urged for a complete demilitarisation of the area surrounding the plant.
In a visit to Ukraine last Thursday where he met Ukraine’s President Zelensky and Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan, he warned “any potential damage to Zaporizhzhia is suicide” and stressed “the facility must not be used as part of any military operation”.
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