UPDATE 2 - Ukraine's threat to strike Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant with drones or missiles real: Russia

UPDATE 2 - Ukraine's threat to strike Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant with drones or missiles real: Russia

Kremlin spokesman accuses Ukrainian authorities of being unscrupulous in their choice of means to achieve their goals, noting that measures taken to mitigate risks

ADDS STATEMENT FROM INTERNATIONAL ATOMIC ENERGY AGENCY

By Elena Teslova

MOSCOW (AA) - Russia claimed on Wednesday that the threat to sabotage the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant is "great," citing intelligence reports indicating Ukraine's intention to carry out strikes using drones or missiles.

"The situation is quite tense because the threat of sabotage by the Kyiv regime is very real. Sabotage, which can have disastrous consequences," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov claimed at a press briefing in Moscow.

The spokesman accused Ukrainian authorities of being unscrupulous in their choice of means to achieve their goals, noting that measures are taken to mitigate risks.

The Kremlin spokesman's reaction came two days after Ukraine claimed Russia is planning a "terrorist attack" and held an official meeting to discuss possible future scenarios involving the Zaporizhzhia plant.

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in an evening address on Tuesday that Ukrainian intelligence has information on objects allegedly resembling explosives being placed on the roof of several power units of the plant "perhaps to simulate an attack."

Meanwhile, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), quoting IAEA chief Rafael Grossi, announced on Wednesday that experts at the plant have inspected parts of the facility in recent weeks and have not found any visible indications of mines or explosives so far.

Moscow claimed on Tuesday that Kyiv had disconnected the main power line connecting to the power plant.

Separately, Renat Karchaa, an adviser to Rosenergoatom, a subsidiary of Russia's state nuclear agency Rosatom, said on the Russian state television channel Rossiya-24 that there is intelligence data indicating Ukraine's intention to carry out strikes on the power plant using drones or missiles.

He claimed that Ukrainian troops may launch an attack with nuclear waste from the South Ukrainian nuclear power plant using the Tochka-U missile.

- Grain deal

When asked about the prospects of extending the Black Sea Grain Initiative, which is valid until July 17, Kremlin spokesman Peskov said there are no grounds for it to be extended.

At the same time, he stressed that the Russian Federation has not yet officially announced its decision on the fate of the deal.

"We will announce it in a timely manner, (as) there is still time. There is also still time to fulfill the part of the agreements that concern our country," he said.

Türkiye, the UN, Russia, and Ukraine signed the deal in Istanbul last July to resume grain exports from three Ukrainian Black Sea ports which were halted after the start of the Ukraine war in February last year.

The deal has been renewed several times since then and was extended for another two months on May 18.

Peskov declined to comment on China's decision to impose export restrictions on rare metals beginning Aug. 1, saying he could not say whether Russia would follow suit because the matter is under the authority of the government.

The spokesman dismissed reports that Chinese President Xi Jinping warned his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin against using nuclear weapons as "fiction."

"Following the results of this important visit ... a lot of information was provided, (and) there were statements for the press. The essence of the negotiations was clearly stated in the documents that were adopted. ... Everything else is fiction," he stressed.

*Burc Eruygur contributed to this story from Istanbul



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