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Ukraine energy chief calls on G-7 to set nuclear plant security steps

Ukraine’s Energy Minister German Galushchenko expressed hope that the security of nuclear power plants would be discussed by leaders of the Group of Seven at their summit in Hiroshima next month, as Russia’s control of Europe’s largest nuclear plant in his country continues to raise fears of a disaster.

In a recent interview with Kyodo News in Kyiv, Galushchenko said what Russia is doing with the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant is “a breach of all international arrangements,” adding Hiroshima is “really a very good city to send a message to the world and to Russia.”

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is scheduled to host the G-7 summit in May in his home constituency of Hiroshima, coming at a time concerns remain about Russia using a nuclear weapon in its war against Ukraine.

Kishida wants to pitch his vision of a world without nuclear weapons from the western Japan city, which was devastated by a U.S. atomic bomb in 1945.

The G-7 comprises Japan, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Britain and the United States, plus the European Union. Russia used to be a member of the Group of Eight but was dropped from the grouping following international outcry over its annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014.

While International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Rafael Grossi has called for the establishment of a security protection zone around the Russian-held plant to avoid a nuclear disaster, the minister said he does not see any significant progress in negotiations.

Ukrainian Energy Minister German Galushchenko gives an interview in Kyiv on April 11, 2023. (Kyodo)

Galushchenko also stressed a need to apply more pressure and sanctions on Moscow to start talks in the hope they lead to Russian troops withdrawing from the plant in southern Ukraine.

The minister said Russia has attacked “all kinds of infrastructure” in Ukraine but failed to destroy his country’s energy systems.

Galushchenko explained that “up to 50 percent” of all energy systems in Ukraine have been targeted by Moscow and need to be repaired.

Asked how Ukraine can protect its energy infrastructure from Russian attacks, the minister said its air defense system is “the best protection.”

As Russia has intensively targeted Ukraine’s energy infrastructure since last fall, Kyiv and other cities have experienced large-scale blackouts.

But Galushchenko said his country has recently resumed exporting electricity to neighboring Moldova and Poland, with exports to Romania and Slovakia set to follow.

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