Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed to a mission from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to access the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant via territory controlled by Ukrainian forces during a call with French President Emmanuel Macron Friday, according to a source from the Élysée Palace.
Putin consented to an IAEA mission being dispatched to Zaporizhzhia, as well as a Ukrainian and French demand for the mission to not transit via Russian-occupied parts of Ukraine, the source said.
The source described this condition to the IAEA mission as “completely necessary, legitimate, indispensable” for the question of Ukrainian sovereignty.
The Élysée Palace earlier Friday announced that Putin indicated “his agreement” to the deployment of a mission, according to a readout.
In the call, Macron proposed the UN nuclear watchdog mission “as soon as possible” and “under conditions agreed by Ukraine and the United Nations,” per the statement.
The two presidents will talk with each other “in the coming days” regarding the deployment to Zaporizhzhia after discussions between technical teams and ahead of the deployment, the statement added.
What the Kremlin said about the call: Putin warned Macron that “systemic shelling” by the Ukrainian military risked a “large-scale catastrophe” at the Zaporizhzhia plant, according to a Kremlin readout of the phone call.
“Vladimir Putin, in particular, stressed that the systematic shelling by the Ukrainian military on the territory of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant creates the danger of a large-scale catastrophe that could lead to radiation contamination of vast territories,” the Kremlin statement said.
More context: A barrage of accusations has been made by both the Russians and Ukrainians about security and military action at and around the plant, the largest nuclear complex in Europe. The lack of independent access to the plant makes it impossible to verify what is happening there. Over the past month, a number of rockets and shells have landed on the territory of the plant, according to satellite imagery analyzed by CNN.
The Kremlin statement also mentioned the possibility of an IAEA mission.
“The Presidents noted the importance of sending an IAEA mission to the nuclear power plant as soon as possible, which would be able to assess the real situation on the spot. The Russian side confirmed its readiness to provide the Agency inspectors with the necessary assistance,” according to the Kremlin.