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France’s Macron urges Putin to withdraw Russian forces from besieged nuclear plant

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French President Emmanuel Macron, one of the few Western leaders to have had an open dialogue with Russian President Vladimir Putin since the invasion of Ukraine, said in a phone call on Sunday that he would pull troops out of the besieged Zaporizhia nuclear power plant. He urged the Kremlin to withdraw.

Russia and Ukraine have exchanged responsibility for shelling a nuclear power plant, with the UN nuclear watchdog warning that the consequences could be “extremely devastating”.

According to information from the Elysée Palace, Macron has sided with Kyiv in his talks with Putin.

“[Macron] I am reminded that the Russian occupation is a source of risk that weighs heavily on the integrity of the Zaporizhzhya power plant today,” the French president told Putin. ”

French President Emmanuel Macron and Russian President Vladimir Putin hold a press conference after their summit on Ukraine at the Elysee Palace in Paris, December 9, 2019.
(Pool/File Photo via Ludovic Marin/Reuters)

Putin, meanwhile, has accused Ukraine of compromising its factories.

“The Russian side has drawn attention to Ukraine’s regular attacks on factory facilities, including radioactive waste depots, with devastating consequences,” said a readout from the Kremlin.

Russian forces withdraw as Ukrainian soldiers retake key areas of Kharkov

Russian forces took over the plant early in the war, but it is still operated by Ukrainian staff.

The International Atomic Energy Agency visited Europe’s largest plant last week and called for a security zone to be established to protect it.

IAEA Director-General Rafael Grossi said: “The physical attack, whether intentional or unintentional, the damage done to this facility, I can personally see and assess together with the experts. It is totally unacceptable,” he said.

The IAEA announced on Sunday that a standby power line had been restored to the power plant, allowing the facility to receive external power for reactor cooling and other operations.

Ukraine’s nuclear state agency, Energoatom, said it had to suspend operations at its factory on Sunday as a safety precaution.

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Macron, who pledged to continue dialogue with Russia earlier this month, also condemned Putin’s aggression on Sunday.

“[Macron] He condemned the continuation of Russian military operations in Ukraine and called for it to be stopped as soon as possible, to start negotiations and to restore Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” read out a phone call with Putin. rice field.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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