Ukraine urged Russia Wednesday to halt its shelling of the route to be taken by the IAEA to reach a Russian-occupied nuclear plant as the inspectors reached the southern city of Zaporizhzhia.
The 14-strong team led by the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency set off from Kyiv in the morning, with a convoy including nine white UN-marked cars reaching Zaporizhzhia around 2:00 pm (1100 GMT), an AFP correspondent said.
They were expected to continue the final leg of their journey to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant on Thursday morning on a route through Russian-occupied territory.
As the team set off from Kyiv, Ukraine accused Russian forces of firing on Energodar, a town with a pre-war population of some 50,000 people which is next to the plant.
The area was repeatedly shelled over the weekend.
“The Russian occupying forces must stop shelling the corridors to be used by the IAEA mission and not obstruct its activities at the plant,” foreign ministry spokesman Oleg Nikolenko wrote on Facebook.
The fate of Europe’s largest atomic facility, which is located on the frontline of the fighting, has stoked fears of a nuclear disaster.
“The mission at the plant will take a few days,” said IAEA chief Rafael Grossi after arriving in Zaporizhzhia.
Earlier on Wednesday, Grossi said the team had received explicit safety guarantees for their journey to the plant.
“These are very complex operations,” he said.
“We are going into a war zone, we’re going to occupied territory, and this requires explicit guarantees not only from the Russian Federation but also from the Republic of Ukraine and we have been able to secure that.”
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