Ukrainian forces advanced towards Luhansk

Putin signs decree to transfer Zaporizhia nuclear power plant to Russian federal property

A Russian soldier guards part of the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant in territory under Russian military control in southeastern Ukraine, May 1. (Photo: AP)

Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree on Wednesday placing the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine under Russian state control and amending the constitution to allow new territories into the Russian Federation.

Putin also instructed the cabinet to decide how to regulate and operate the Zaporizhia plant, which is under Russian military control from March until 2028.

The standoff over the condition of the plant and the explosions that damaged some of the facilities there prompted the International Atomic Energy Agency to intervene.

As President Putin signed the decree, Ukraine’s state nuclear operator Energodom said its president would take over as the plant’s chief executive.

Petro Kotin, head of Energoatom, said in a video address to plant employees: “I have decided to assume the functions of the general director of Zaporizhia NPP, in accordance with the current law, approval and regulatory documents.”

He said the plant’s management would be transferred directly to Kyiv following the arrest of the plant’s general director, Ihor Murashov, by Russian authorities.

He said the plant’s operational issues would be resolved by technical staff in contract with the company’s central office.

“Without a doubt, our work, our fate, our homes and our future are with Ukraine as always. We will continue to work in Ukraine’s energy system, Energoatom, according to Ukrainian law. Don’t hesitate,” Petro Kodin noted.

On Tuesday, the International Atomic Energy Agency said Murashov would not resume his duties at the nuclear plant after his release from Russian custody.

“The IAEA understands that Mr. Murashov is now with his family in Ukrainian-controlled territory and will not continue his work at the ZNPP,” it said in a statement.

The six-reactor nuclear power plant is the largest in Europe. It is still administered by Ukrainian technocrats, but the forced annexation of Zaporizhia means that, under Russian law, it is now part of Russian territory.

The annexation of Zaporizhia and the three regions has been widely condemned by the international community, with most governments saying it contravenes international law.

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Eden Hayes

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