Fighting at Ukraine Nuclear Power Site Irresponsible, against Geneva Conventions, Under-Secretary-General Tells Security Council
Delegate Calls on Russian Federation to Protect Civilians, Stresses That International Humanitarian Law Is Not Optional
Fierce overnight fighting at Ukraine’s largest nuclear power facility — which resulted in a fire, but has not elevated radiation levels — is both unacceptable and “highly irresponsible”, the senior United Nations political affairs official told an emergency meeting of the Security Council today.
Rosemary Dicarlo, Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, was joined by International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi, who detailed events over the last 24 hours and expressed his readiness to immediately deploy a non-political nuclear‑safety mission to Ukraine.
“Ukraine knows only too well the devastation a major nuclear accident can cause,” Ms. DiCarlo told the Security Council, referring to the devastating 1986 nuclear incident in the town of Chernobyl. Describing fighting at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Station in the town of Enerhodar in recent hours, she said heavy shelling there affected a training facility, and not the plant’s cooling system or power centre. Nevertheless, developments at the site are not only unacceptable, but also “highly irresponsible”, she stressed, recalling that attacks on nuclear power facilities run counter to article 56 of Additional Protocol I to the Geneva Conventions.
Mr. Grossi, addressing the Council remotely from onboard an aircraft, said IAEA has been in regular contact with Ukrainian nuclear regulatory officials. They reported that Russian Federation troops moving into the area of Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Station were met with opposition by Ukrainian civilians, but in recent hours a projectile hit a building near the power plant’s nuclear reactors, resulting in a fire that was then extinguished. No safety systems were compromised, and no nuclear reactors were hit. While the plant’s operations continue normally, he emphasized that “there is no normalcy about this situation when there are military forces in charge of the site”.
Against that fraught backdrop, he said IAEA is prepared to travel to Ukraine as soon as possible, with the goal of establishing a framework to ensure that the safety and integrity of all nuclear facilities can be observed. “This mission of the IAEA, if and when it takes place, should not have anything to do with the political and diplomatic aspects that are in the purview of the Security Council,” he said, emphasizing that such a mission would be strictly restricted to the safety and security of nuclear facilities in Ukraine.
As Council members took the floor, many sounded alarm over the events unfolding in and around the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Station, as well as in Ukraine more broadly. Several emphasized that an accident or incident at the nuclear facility — which is Europe’s largest — would have unimaginable consequences for human and planetary health, and wreak havoc far greater than that witnessed in Chernobyl in 1986. Nearly every speaker called for an immediate de‑escalation, with many urging the Russian Federation to promptly withdraw all its troops and weapons from the territory of Ukraine.
Norway’s representative said shelling and fighting in the immediate vicinity of a civilian nuclear power plant shows a blatant disregard for Ukrainian lives, Russian lives and indeed life in Europe and beyond. Stressing that international humanitarian law is not optional, she called on Moscow to fulfil its obligations to protect civilians and civilian infrastructure. It must immediately withdraw its forces from Ukrainian territory and cease all threats and military actions, including in the vicinity of, and directed at, nuclear facilities, she said, adding: “A ceasefire is desperately and urgently needed; diplomacy must win.”
The representative of the United Kingdom, one of the delegations who called for today’s emergency session, said today marks the first time that a State has attacked a fuelled, functioning nuclear power plant. International law mandates special protection for nuclear facilities, and it is difficult to see how Moscow’s actions are compatible with its commitments thereunder. This must not happen again, and even amid its illegal invasion of Ukraine, the Russian Federation must keep the fighting away from — and protect the safety and security of — nuclear sites, she stressed.
Ghana’s representative emphasized that every effort must be made to mitigate the risk of accidental emissions, which pose immeasurable risk to the lives of civilians and an already fragile environment. Support must continue for IAEA to enable it to provide necessary assistance to Ukrainian authorities to ensure the safety of nuclear facilities and infrastructure together with all staff on site, she said, recalling the horrors of the 1986 Chernobyl accident and the consequent nuclear catastrophe.
The representative of Brazil, echoing calls on all parties to refrain from any action that could jeopardize the security of nuclear material, declared: “We cannot turn a blind eye to the role that the Council should play, but is not playing, in the current situation.” No matter how many public meetings the Council convenes, it seems a ceasefire and an end to the hostilities remain elusive. Urging all members to promote dialogue and rebuild trust, he stressed: “This is not the time to further escalate the rhetoric, but to engage in conversations towards peace.”
Meanwhile, the representatives of the Russian Federation and Ukraine outlined opposing narratives of the events that unfolded over the last 24 hours. Moscow’s representative said the Zaporizhzhia power plant was in fact taken by Russian forces on 28 February and placed under the guard of the Russian military, with the goal of preventing Ukrainian forces or others from creating a nuclear provocation or interrupting the power supply to civilians. On the night of 4 March, however, Ukrainian saboteurs fired upon Russian forces who were patrolling the area and set a fire, which was quickly extinguished. No personnel were injured, the power units at Zaporizhzhia were not damaged and the facility continues to operate normally.
Describing today’s meeting as yet another attempt by the Kyiv authorities to create “artificial hysteria” about the events taking place in Ukraine, he declared: “A massive anti-Russia information campaign is unfolding.” Moscow has no interest in seeking a nuclear provocation of any kind, having also lived through the 1986 Chernobyl incident. The Council’s reaction today only proves that Ukrainian saboteurs enjoy “carte blanche” for their actions from the international community, he said.
Ukraine’s representative, strongly rejecting that description of events, said that, on 3 March the Russian Federation committed an act of nuclear terrorism by shelling the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Station. Expressing alarm that the power plant is now under the control of Russian forces — and that several employees responsible for the safe functioning of the site have been killed — he said that, while radiation levels remain normal, Ukrainian nuclear regulators have not been granted access to the site. Any disruption to the cooling process could have irreparable environmental and human consequences for the entire region, he warned.
“Russia seems to be furious that its plans to quickly invade Ukraine have already failed,” he said, noting that the Ukrainian people continue to courageously fight for their freedom with broad support from the global community. Noting Moscow’s attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructure over the last week, he reminded the Council of its responsibly vis-á-vis a no-fly zone, requesting it to consider the protection of nuclear power plants and urging it to urgently invoke a ban on all flights over Ukraine. He described the Council’s failure to act as an enormous derogation of its responsibility, urging international entities to expel the Russian Federation’s representatives, “as they do not deserve to be among civilized and responsible nations”.
Also speaking today were the representatives of Albania, United States, France, Ireland, India, Mexico, China, Kenya and the United Arab Emirates.
The meeting began at 11:37 a.m. and ended at 1:20 p.m.
ROSEMARY DICARLO, Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, reported that Ukraine’s cities today remain under heavy assault by Russian forces and over 1 million people have already fled across the country’s borders, and been welcomed by their European neighbours. Those that remain in Ukraine are suffering heavy bombardments and shelling. There have been thousands of casualties and the numbers are growing.
Noting that the United Nations is rapidly expanding its work to respond to the crisis, she went on to report heavy fighting at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant overnight. It is the United Nations understanding that the shelling at the site affected a training facility, and not the cooling system or power centre. Describing the actions that took place in recent hours as both unacceptable and “highly irresponsible”, she recalled the 1986 nuclear disaster in the Ukrainian town of Chernobyl, adding: “Ukraine knows only too well the devastation a major nuclear accident can cause.”
“Every effort should be taken to prevent a catastrophic nuclear incident,” she continued, applauding the brave personnel who have kept Ukrainian nuclear power sites safe during the current crisis. She recalled that attacks on nuclear power facilities run counter to international humanitarian law, specifically, article 56 of Additional Protocol I to the Geneva Conventions. The Secretary‑General welcomes the statements and actions by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) this morning, and is ready to assist however he can.
Urging all parties to work with the Agency to promptly create a framework to ensure the safe and reliable operation of all the country’s nuclear power plants, she also welcomed the reported agreement between Ukrainian and Russian negotiations during their second round of talks on 3 March, including on the creation of a humanitarian corridor and safe passage for civilians. Expressing her hope that a ceasefire will also be agreed shortly, she emphasized that only diplomacy can end this crisis, stressing: “The fighting must stop, and it must stop now.”
RAFAEL MARIANO GROSSI, Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said his organization has been in regular contact with its Ukrainian nuclear regulatory counterpart. Last week, it was confirmed that Russian Federation forces had taken control of the Chernobyl nuclear site, and that operators there continued to run day-to-day operations. Several days ago, IAEA was informed by the Russian Federation that its forces are moving into the area of Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Station. They were met with opposition by Ukrainian civilians, but in recent hours a projectile reportedly hit a building near the power plant’s nuclear reactors, resulting in a fire that was then extinguished. No safety systems have been compromised and no nuclear reactors themselves were hit.
While the plant’s operations continue normally, he emphasized that “there is no normalcy about this situation when there are military forces in charge of the site”. IAEA continues its regular contact with the Ukrainian regulatory agency, as well as the company that runs the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Station, and operators there. Stressing his readiness to travel to Chernobyl as soon as possible to consult with Ukrainian counterparts, and if necessary, with the forces in charge, he said the goal is to establish a framework to ensure that the safety and integrity of all facilities can be observed.
Having received direct request for assistance, he said it is IAEA’s responsibility to heed that call and provide help. “This mission of the IAEA, if and when it takes place, should not have anything to do with the political and diplomatic aspects that are in the purview of the Security Council,” he said, emphasizing that such a mission would be strictly restricted to the safety and security of nuclear facilities in Ukraine.
BARBARA WOODWARD (United Kingdom), noting that her country and its partners called today’s urgent meeting because Russian Federation forces attacked the largest nuclear power station in Europe, underscored that this is the first time that a State has attacked a fuelled, functioning nuclear power plant. International law mandates special protection for nuclear facilities, and it is difficult to see how Moscow’s actions are compatible with its commitments thereunder. This must not happen again and, even amid its illegal invasion of Ukraine, the Russian Federation must keep the fighting away from — and protect the safety and security of — nuclear sites. Recalling Russian President Vladimir V. Putin’s statement on 3 March that the “special military operation” — “or, as everyone else calls it, a war” — is going to plan, she said that he misjudged the strength, resilience and will of the Ukrainian people to his invasion. Mr. Putin also underestimated the world’s condemnation of his actions, as 141 votes in the General Assembly and unprecedented sanctions on his country attest. Against that backdrop, she called on the Russian Federation to end the violence, withdraw its troops and enter serious peace negotiations.
FERIT HOXHA (Albania) said that, 10 days into the so-called special operation — which, in reality, is “Operation How to Invade Your Neighbour” — the humanitarian crisis heading towards disaster in Ukraine has implications for all of Europe. All developments in this geopolitical crisis artificially created by the Russian invasion of Ukraine indicate, unmistakeably, that it is headed towards further escalation. The world’s call to stop this aggression has not been heard in Moscow, and the Russian Federation remains defiant. Expressing concern over the Russian capture of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Station — which provides more than one fifth of Ukraine’s electricity — he stressed that this could have a serious impact on the country’s civilians and economy, along with irreparable consequences for Europe’s environment. “It is difficult not to have in mind the dreadful images of Chernobyl,” he added. He urged IAEA to continue working closely with Ukraine to provide the maximum assistance possible as that country works to ensure nuclear safety. Further, the Zaporizhzhia plant must be operated by its regular staff. He went on to underscore that it falls upon the Council to do what it can — and what is needed — to save Ukraine, its people and all of Europe “from the hell Russia is heading towards with its relentless aggression”.
LINDA THOMAS-GREENFIELD (United States) said the Russian Federation’s attack on 3 March put Europe’s largest nuclear power plant at grave risk, calling it “incredibly reckless and dangerous”. Noting the threat to the safety of civilians across the Russian Federation, Ukraine and Europe, she called on Moscow to withdraw its troops from the plant, permit medical treatment for injured personnel, ensure operators have full access to the site and are able to communicate with nuclear regulators, and to allow operators to conduct shift changes to ensure the continued safe operation of the facility. Ukrainian and nuclear engineers must have full access to the site, she said, stressing that “nuclear facilities cannot become part of this conflict.” The Russian Federation must halt any further use of force that might put at further risk all 15 operable reactors across Ukraine or interfere with that country’s ability to maintain the safety and security of its 37 nuclear facilities and surrounding populations, she said. Expressing serious concern that Russian military forces controlling the Chernobyl site have not permitted operators there to have a shift change since last week, she called on all countries to support Mr. Grossi in his efforts to find arrangements going forward to ensure nuclear safety and prevent a nuclear catastrophe in Ukraine.
Detailing the impacts of the Russian Federation’s invasion, she said the United Nations has reported that the action has turned half a million children into refugees. Further, she said the invasion has killed thousands of Ukrainians, sacrificed the lives of Russian Federation soldiers and destroyed critical infrastructure. Urging her Russian counterparts to provide answers to the Council, she called on Moscow to withdraw its troops and weaponry from Ukraine, and to respect that country’s borders, its people and the Charter. Further urging the Russian Federation to abide by its international law obligations, she said the United States and its partners have called for a briefing on 7 March on the humanitarian situation in Ukraine. The international community must be unanimous in demanding the Russian Federation’s forces stop its dangerous assault. “The people of Ukraine are counting on us and we must not let them down,” she concluded.
NICOLAS DE RIVIÈRE (France), condemning the Russian Federation’s attack on the nuclear power plant, called on it to cease its illegal and dangerous activities, so that control over all nuclear materials and facilities within Ukraine’s internationally recognized borders can be restored to the country’s authorities. Further, the Russian Federation should also allow regular and unfettered access to the facilities so that operators can carry out their job safely. He asked Mr. Rossi to use all instruments available to IAEA to support Ukraine’s efforts to ensure the safety and security of all facilities in the country, adding that France also supports the Director General’s proposal for negotiations on commitments between the parties to the conflict. He reiterated France’s unwavering support for the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine within its own internationally recognized borders. Noting the devastating human cost of the Russian aggression, he said the immediate cessation of hostilities and strict application of international humanitarian law is urgent. For that reason, France, together with Mexico, is putting forth a resolution with that goal in mind, he said, stressing that the Security Council must fully assume its responsibility in that regard.
GERALDINE BYRNE NASON (Ireland) said that the 3 March attack by Russian Federation forces on the nuclear power plant at Zaporizhzhia has shocked everyone and sent a chilling signal across Europe and the globe. It reinforces the concerns arising from the armed takeover by the Russian Federation of the nuclear facilities in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone on 24 February. Ireland condemns the reckless firing against nuclear power plants. Armed attacks and threats against nuclear facilities devoted to peaceful purposes constitute violations of international law, including the principles of the Charter of the United Nations, Additional Protocol I to the Geneva Conventions and the IAEA Statute. By attacking such sites, Moscow risks an environmental disaster, compounding the human tragedy in Ukraine. “A radioactive release from any of these sites would also have serious repercussions for human life and health, agriculture and the environment in Ukraine, the Russian Federation itself and the wider European region,” she said. She called on the Russian Federation to fully respect its obligations under the Charter, international law and the IAEA Statue. All international nuclear safety and security standards must be maintained. She called on the Russian Federation to allow Ukrainian personnel at the plant do their work, safely and without undue pressure. It is crucial that safety systems at the plant are not compromised. Power supply to the plant must be maintained. This is essential not just for the six reactors at this site, but also for the spent fuel stored there. There should be no interruption of basic services, including energy to the population across Ukraine at this time. Ireland fully supports the work of IAEA, and its incident and emergency centre in its ongoing monitoring and assistance of the nuclear safety and security situation in Ukraine. It will be for the IAEA Director General to keep the Council informed regarding nuclear safety and security in Ukraine. “Cavalier, reckless behaviour with dangerous forces such as nuclear power is utterly unacceptable,” she said.
MONA JUUL (Norway) said shelling and fighting in the immediate vicinity of a civilian nuclear power plant shows a blatant disregard for Ukrainian lives, Russian lives and indeed life in Europe and beyond. It is irresponsible and unacceptable, as civilians can never be a target and a nuclear power plant should never be a target. International humanitarian law is not optional, she said, calling on the Russian Federation to fulfil its obligations to protect civilians and civilian infrastructure. Commending efforts to ensure continuing nuclear safety and security, she said the Russian Federation bears full responsibility for this act of aggression, and all the destruction and loss of life it has and will continue to cause. Reiterating the call for on Moscow to immediately withdraw its forces from Ukrainian territory and cease all threats and military actions, including in the vicinity of, and directed at, nuclear facilities, she said: “A ceasefire is desperately and urgently needed; diplomacy must win.”
VASSILY A. NEBENZIA (Russian Federation) said today’s meeting is yet another attempt by the Kyiv authorities to create “artificial hysteria” about the events taking place in Ukraine, backed by their Western allies. Lies are being told about how Russian Federation troops attacked the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Station in Enerhodar, part of a broader campaign of lies against Moscow. “These statements are simply untrue,” he said, noting that the power plant and adjacent territory were taken by the Russian Federation’s forces on 28 February. An agreement was reached at that time to place the facilities under the guard of the Russian military, with the goal of preventing Ukrainian forces or other groups from taking advantage of the events to create a nuclear provocation or interrupt power supply to civilians. The Russian Federation has brought in personnel with relevant technical experience, and the situation is currently similar in Chernobyl, where security is being ensured jointly by the Ukrainian operators and the Russian forces.
On the night of 4 March, he said, while patrolling the area adjacent to the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Station, a Russian military patrol was attacked by a group of Ukrainian saboteurs. Heavy small arms fire was opened from several floors of the training complex located just outside the nuclear power plant. Russian troops returned fire, and the Ukrainian saboteurs set a fire as they were leaving, which was quickly extinguished. At present, the power plant’s personnel — who were not injured — continue to work normally, and are monitoring radiation levels, which remain normal. Noting that the power units of the Zaporizhzhia facility were not damaged, he went on to recall similar attempts at nuclear provocations by Ukrainian nationalists in 2014. Moscow drew attention to those efforts at the time, but was ignored.
“A massive anti-Russia information campaign is unfolding,” he stressed, asking why Moscow would seek a nuclear provocation of any kind. He emphasized that the danger to the Ukrainian population today comes not from Moscow, but from groups of Ukrainian saboteurs. The Council’s reaction only proves that those saboteurs enjoy “carte blanche” for their actions from the international community. Outlining the challenging situation faced by foreign nationals in Ukraine, he said Russian forces have established checkpoints equipped with medication and hot meals, and evacuees are being assisted. He also cited reports of requisitioning of United Nations vehicles by Ukrainian nationalists, voicing grave concern they could end up in terrorist hands and could be used for terrorist purposes.
T.S. TIRUMURTI (India), emphasizing that a cessation of hostilities is essential, said his delegation attaches the highest importance to ensuring safety and security of nuclear facilities. Any accident involving the nuclear facilities may have severe consequences for public health and the environment, he said, adding that India accords the highest priority to the discharge by IAEA of its safeguards and monitoring activities, in accordance with its Statute in an effective, non-discriminatory and efficient manner. Expressing hope that talks between the two sides contribute to the immediate establishment of a safe humanitarian corridor, he said differences must be resolved through sustained dialogue and diplomacy, as reiterated by India’s Prime Minister in his conversations with global leaders including of the Russian Federation and Ukraine. Key principles in this regard are a commitment to the United Nations Charter and international law and respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all States.
JUAN RAMÓN DE LA FUENTE RAMÍREZ (Mexico), expressing concern over the incident at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Station, said that, while the information presented would indicate that nuclear reactors have not been impacted and radiation levels have not increased, this does not diminish the gravity of the incident. Firing missiles on or around a nuclear energy plant is a violation of fundamental principles governing the physical integrity of such facilities, which must be maintained under all circumstances. Also expressing concern for the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, he stressed that any incident at either of these facilities — or at any other — could have serious health and environmental repercussions. Just a week into a conflict that has already created more than 1 million refugees, the additional humanitarian consequences of a radiological accident would be so serious that the Council must take all preventative measures within its reach to avert the same. There is no justification for military action at these sites, and the Zaporizhzhia incident should be added to a growing list of direct and collateral attacks on civilian infrastructure. He went on to call for an immediate ceasefire to facilitate urgent humanitarian action.
CAROLYN OPPONG-NTIRI (Ghana) said every effort must be made to mitigate the risk of accidental emissions, which pose immeasurable risk to the lives of civilians and an already fragile environment. Support must continue for IAEA to enable it to provide necessary assistance to Ukrainian authorities to ensure the safety of nuclear facilities and infrastructure together with all staff on site, she said, recalling the horrors of the 1986 Chernobyl accident and the consequent nuclear catastrophe. Ghana strongly appeals to the parties to exercise restraint and halt the use of force in all areas of critical infrastructure, including the nuclear power plants, and to respect their international obligations to protect human lives and to prevent a potential disaster. Noting ongoing diplomatic talks in Belarus, she welcomed the agreement reached to create a humanitarian corridor. Expressing strong support for the peaceful resolution of this conflict, she urged further constructive engagements by the parties at all levels in the pursuit of their security interests and the maintenance of international peace and security.
ZHANG JUN (China), expressing concern over relevant reports regarding the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Station, noted that, according to the information IAEA received from the Ukrainian nuclear authorities, the plant’s main equipment remains intact and the level of radiation unchanged. China attaches great importance to nuclear safety and security, and he expressed hope that the relevant parties act with caution and — with specialized assistance from IAEA — work to ensure the safety of relevant nuclear facilities in Ukraine. The crisis in Ukraine is undergoing complex changes, but it is most important to ease tensions, avoid more civilian casualties, intensify diplomatic efforts and return to the track of political settlement as soon as possible. Welcoming the recent, preliminary consensus on establishing a humanitarian corridor, he expressed hope that the same will help protect civilians and assist the evacuation of foreign nationals, including China’s. The international community should remain cool‑headed and rational, adopting a responsible, objective and impartial approach to facilitating direct talks between the parties concerned. Any action must work towards diplomatic settlement, he stressed, “rather than adding fuel to the fire”.
RONALDO COSTA FILHO (Brazil) said the international community is not only witnessing an appalling humanitarian catastrophe in Ukraine, but is also confronted with the prospect of a nuclear incident of significant dimensions due to the situation in the nuclear facility in Zaporizhzhia. That is yet another reason for the international community to call for the immediate and comprehensive cessation of all hostilities in Ukraine, he said. The complete de-escalation of military actions is past due, and the provisions of international humanitarian law must be respected in their entirety. He called on all parties to refrain from any measure or action that could jeopardize the security of nuclear material, as well as the safe operation of all nuclear facilities in Ukraine. “We cannot turn a blind eye to the role that the Council should play, but is not playing in the current situation,” he said, adding that, no matter how many public meetings the Council convenes, a ceasefire and an end to the hostilities remain elusive. He urged all members to promote dialogue and rebuild trust. “This is not the time to further escalate the rhetoric, but to engage in conversations towards peace,” he said, reiterating his country’s appeal for a ceasefire and diplomacy.
JAYNE TOROITICH (Kenya) said rarely has it been more urgent to observe international conventions regulating the conduct of armed conflict. Kenya calls for the adherence to the Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, relating to the Protection of Victims of Non-International Armed Conflicts (Protocol II), particularly part IV. Article 15 states: “Works or installations containing dangerous forces, namely dams, dykes and nuclear electrical generating stations, shall not be made the object of attack, even where these objects are military objectives, if such attack may cause the release of dangerous forces and consequent severe losses among the civilian population.” Kenya also recalls the resolution, adopted in April 2021, on “Protection of Objects Indispensable to the Survival of the Civilian Population”. It highlights the significant effect the destruction of essential infrastructure in many conflicts across the globe continues to have on civilians. Beyond the risk to nuclear power plants, Kenya urges due caution around any actions that may destroy civilian objects critical to the survival of Ukrainians. “Harm to them can lead to an escalation of the armed conflict and make it all the more difficult to resolve it promptly,” she said. Kenya calls for the military leadership of Ukraine and the Russian Federation to establish mechanisms to reduce the targeting and risk to critical infrastructure. Such a mechanism can mirror the agreement, made on 3 March by both sides of the conflict, to establish a humanitarian corridor, as well as a temporary local ceasefire to enable aid deliveries. Kenya encourages the continuation of this positive dialogue and calls on Moscow to urgently enter negotiations to settle this conflict by peaceful means.
LANA ZAKI NUSSEIBEH (United Arab Emirates), Council President for March, spoke in her national capacity, describing the events at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Station as a “dangerous development in the conflict”. Warning of incalculable human and environmental costs, she urged all parties to ensure the safety of the power plant and the surrounding area, and to cooperate with IAEA to establish a framework for the facility’s security. As a member of the IAEA Governing Board, the United Arab Emirates prioritizes nuclear safety, and it supports the proposal by the Agency’s Director General to begin put in place agreed protocols on nuclear safety in Ukraine. Adding that nuclear threats are a crucial matter of peace and security, she stressed that the Council must make every effort to avert a catastrophic disaster, and called again for de-escalation, a cessation of hostilities and a diplomatic solution that “should be supported by all of us”.
Ms. DICARLO, responding to comments made by the Russian Federation’s delegate regarding requisitioned United Nations vehicles, reported that 13 vehicles belonging to the Organization were left in Kramatorsk, but all 13 remain there and have been accounted for.
SERGIY KYSLYTSYA (Ukraine) said it is not only Ukraine, but also Europe, the entire world and all of humanity that are currently under attack by the Russian Federation. “Russia seems to be furious that its plans to quickly invade Ukraine have already failed,” he said, noting that his country’s people continue to courageously fight for their freedom with broad support from the global community. As a result, the Russian Federation no longer attempts to hide its crimes against humanity, killing civilians and wreaking havoc on civilian infrastructure. On 3 March, Moscow also committed an act of nuclear terrorism while shelling the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Station.
Noting that a fire broke out during the Russian shelling of the area that night, he said the Zaporizhzhia facility is now under the control of Russian forces. It is alarming that several employees responsible for the safe functioning of the site have been killed, and that there has been no rotation of personnel since the morning of 3 March. Outlining the condition of the power plant’s six nuclear units, he said Unit 1 is under outage conditions, with damage to its main building. Units 2 and 3 have been disconnected from the grid, Unit 4 is operational, and Units 5 and 6 are being cooled down. While radiation levels remain normal, Ukrainian nuclear regulators have not been granted access to the site, he said, warning that any disruption to the cooling process could have irreparable environmental and human consequences for the entire region.
He asked the representative of the Russian Federation to appeal to his capital for the establishment of a safe corridor to allow students to leave the area, while urging him to stop spreading lies in the Council. A nuclear incident at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Station would exceed the devastation witnessed in Chernobyl in 1986, he stressed, expressing disappointment that Mr. Grossi’s statement did not go as far as to clearly call out the attack on the Zaporizhzhia site. He reminded the Council of its responsibly vis-á-vis a no-fly zone, requesting it to consider the protection of nuclear power plants and urging it to invoke a ban on all flights over Ukraine as soon as possible. He also recalled that Ukraine requested the Council to deploy a peacekeeping mission to its territory in 2015, which was not accomplished.
Spotlighting the Security Council’s failure to act — due to the Russian Federation’s position as a party to the conflict — as an enormous derogation of its responsibility, he asked Ms. DiCarlo to forward Ukraine’s requests to the Secretary-General and to ensure that every single United Nations body respects the General Assembly’s 2 March resolution. In particular its language that the “aggression against Ukraine” must not be replaced with euphemisms, he stressed, further asking all international organizations to expel the Russian Federation’s representatives, “as they do not deserve to be among civilized and responsible nations”.
* The 8985th Meeting was closed.