Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday signed a decree that puts the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine under Russian state control — and amends the country’s constitution by admitting new regions into the Russian Federation.
Putin also instructed the cabinet to determine how to regulate and operate the Zaporizhzhia plant — which has been under Russian military control since March — through 2028.
Remember: The annexation of Zaporizhzhia and three other regions has been widely condemned by the international community as “a sham”, and the vast majority of governments have described it as against international law.
The confrontation over the status of the plant, and shelling that has damaged some installations there, has led the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to intervene.
Just as Putin was signing the decree, the Ukrainian state nuclear operator, Energoatom, said its president would assume the duties of the plant’s director general.
Petro Kotin, Energoatom president, said in a video address to the employees of the plant: “In accordance with the current legislation, approval and regulatory documents, I have decided to take up the duties of the director general of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant.”
He said the administration of the plant would be transferred directly to Kyiv following the detention by Russian officials of the plant’s general director, Ihor Murashov. The official also noted that operational issues at the plant would be resolved by the technical staff by agreement with the central office of the company.
“Undoubtedly, our work, our destiny, our homes and our future are with Ukraine, as always. We will continue to work in accordance with Ukrainian legislation, in the Ukrainian energy system, in Energoatom. Don’t doubt it!” Kotin noted.
Some more context: On Tuesday, the IAEA said that Murashov will not continue his duties at the nuclear power plant following his release from Russian detention.
The nuclear plant, with six reactors, is the largest in Europe. It continues to be run by Ukrainian technicians, but the forcible annexation of Zaporizhzhia means that according to Russian law it is now on Russian territory.