Moscow: Russian President Vladimir Putin has agreed to allow a team of independent inspectors to travel to Moscow-occupied Zaporizhia nuclear power plant via Ukraine, the French president’s office said on Friday.

The dispute over whether the inspectors came through Ukraine or Russia was apparently resolved when a senior US military official said that Ukrainian forces had stopped the Russian advance.

“We are seeing a complete and utter lack of progress by the Russians on the battlefield,” an official told reporters on condition of anonymity.

According to French President Emmanuel Macron’s office, Putin said the International Atomic Energy Agency would be sent to the site by way of Russia after the Russian leader himself warned that fighting there could result in a “catastrophe”. “reconsidered the request” to go to

Putin has revealed that he has withdrawn his request to travel to the site via Russia, citing an IAEA team that could arrive via Ukraine.

Meanwhile, UN Secretary-General António Guterres has urged Moscow forces occupying the Zaporizhia factory in southern Ukraine not to disconnect the facility from the power grid and potentially cut supplies to millions of Ukrainians. did.

Fighting rages around a Russian-controlled nuclear power plant, with both sides blaming each other for attacks, raising the prospect of a disaster more dire than Chernobyl.

The Kremlin issued a statement saying that Putin and Macron had agreed to conduct inspections “as soon as possible” by officials of the UN’s nuclear watchdog to “assess the actual situation on the ground”.

Putin also “underlined that the systematic shelling by Ukrainian forces on the territory of the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant creates the danger of a large-scale catastrophe,” the Kremlin added.

The warning came after Turkish leaders Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Guterres met in the eastern Ukraine city of Lviv, warning of escalating fighting, and urging Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to secure the spot for the United Nations. It was served the next day.

Turkish leader said: We don’t want Chernobyl to happen again, referring to the 1986 nuclear disaster,” but warned that any damage to the plant would be akin to “suicide.”

– “Man-made disaster” –

During a visit to the port south of Odessa on Friday, the UN Secretary-General said: This principle must be fully respected. ”

“Naturally, that energy must be used by the Ukrainian people,” he told AFP in another comment.

His remarks came after Ukrainian energy operator Energoatom claimed the Russian military was planning to “shut down the reactor” in Zaporizhia, which could supply four million homes.

On Thursday, Moscow said Kyiv was preparing a “provocation” at a site that would see Russia accused of “causing man-made disasters at factories”.

But Kyiv, which claims Moscow is planning a provocation, said the Russian occupation forces had ordered most staff to stay home on Friday and had poached officials from Russia’s state-run nuclear energy agency.

The UN secretary-general will make Ukrainian grain available to poor countries struggling with high food prices after signing a landmark deal with Russia last month to allow Ukrainian grain exports. was visiting Odessa as part of an appeal for

Earlier, Guterres met with Erdogan and Zelenskiy, who helped broker the grain deal signed in Istanbul, and said the UN hopes to scale up work under the deal before winter.

The deal, the only significant agreement between Russia and Ukraine since Moscow’s invasion in February, has so far seen 25 ships carrying about 600,000 tons of agricultural products shipped from three designated ports. Kyiv said he had left.

But in his first conference call with Macron in almost three months, Putin told French leaders that Russia was facing obstacles in exporting food and fertilizers.

– Export “Obstacles” –

“There are still obstacles to Russian exports that do not contribute to solving problems related to ensuring global food security,” the Kremlin said.

After Odessa, Guterres will head to Turkey to visit the Joint Coordination Center, which is tasked with overseeing the deal.

The agreement between Kyiv and Moscow to remove exit corridors from three Ukrainian ports, including Odessa, will bring some relief to global food shortage concerns with the world’s leading producers and countries at war. rice field.

The deal was struck, but it brought little respite along the vast front in eastern Ukraine, where after nearly six months of fighting, Russian forces slowly advanced.

The main method of Moscow forces is artillery fire, and recent shelling of the eastern Donetsk region, which has been partially controlled by Russian proxies since 2014, has resulted in several deaths.

Ukrainian Amir Pablo Kirilenko said on social media on Friday that five people were killed and another 10 wounded in three settlements in the Russian attacks.

A strike early Friday morning in Kharkov, Ukraine’s second-largest city, killed one person and damaged schools and private businesses, said a regional chief. Russian attacks around Kharkov have killed more than a dozen people in the past two days.

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