The US supports calls for a demilitarised zone around Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant after fighting began again between Russian and Ukrainian forces in the area, a State Department representative said on Thursday.
“Fighting near a nuclear plant is dangerous and irresponsible — and we continue to call on Russia to cease all military operations at or near Ukrainian nuclear facilities and return full control to Ukraine, and support Ukrainian calls for a demilitarised zone around the nuclear power plant,” the representative said.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres earlier on Thursday called for an immediate end to military activity near Europe's largest nuclear power plant.
“Urgent agreement is needed at a technical level on a safe perimeter of demilitarisation to ensure the safety of the area,” Mr Guterres said in a statement.
The secretary general's statement comes before an emergency UN Security Council meeting called for by Russia on Thursday afternoon to address the crisis at the complex.
The UN nuclear safety watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, said its director, Rafael Grossi, would brief the council “about the nuclear safety and security situation” at the plant as well as “efforts to agree and lead an IAEA expert mission to the site as soon as possible”.
Both Moscow and Kyiv said there were five rocket strikes near a radioactive material storage area at the plant.
Ukraine's nuclear agency Energoatom said later there had been fresh Russian shelling near one of the plant's six reactors that caused “extensive smoke” and damaged “several radiation sensors”.
Vladimir Rogov, a member of the Moscow-installed regional administration, said via the messaging app Telegram that Ukrainian forces had “once again struck” the plant.
The Ukrainian plant is under the control of Russian troops and Ukraine has accused Moscow of basing hundreds of soldiers and storing arms there.
The plant was captured by Russian forces at the beginning of the war, though it is still being run by Ukrainian technicians.
Agencies contributed to this report