23 Jan. (Reuters) – Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) on Monday accused Ukraine of storing Western-supplied weapons in nuclear power plants across the country, an allegation dismissed as untrue by a senior Ukrainian official.
The Russian spy agency provided no evidence and Reuters was unable to verify the claims.
An SVR statement said US-supplied HIMARS missile launchers, air defense systems and artillery munitions had been delivered to the Rivne Nuclear Power Plant in northwestern Ukraine.
“Ukrainian Armed Forces store weapons and ammunition supplied by the West on the territory of nuclear power plants,” it said, adding that a weapons shipment to the Rivne plant had taken place in the last week of December.
Asked about the report on Monday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the allegations showed the importance of maintaining dialogue with the United Nations nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency.
However, Peskov said there are currently no plans for a meeting between IAEA head Rafael Grossi and President Vladimir Putin.
Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelensky, said his country has never used nuclear power plants (NPP) to store weapons.
“Ukraine has never stored weapons on the territory of the nuclear power plant, as falsely claimed by the Russian foreign intelligence service. On the contrary, the Russian Federation has seized the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant and is keeping its army there,” he said on Twitter.
Podolyak said Ukraine is “open to inspecting bodies, including the IAEA” and that “Russian lies are intended to justify their provocations”.
Ukraine’s many nuclear power plants have been the focus of attention since the beginning of the conflict. Russian forces took the defunct Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in less than 48 hours after the troops invaded and also captured the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant – the largest in Europe – at the start of the war.
Both Kiev and Moscow have accused each other of firing on Zaporizhzhia. Ukraine also says Russia is using the site as a de facto arms depot.
The IAEA has expressed serious concern about attacks near the plant and warned of the risk of a nuclear disaster.
Reporting by Reuters Edited by Gareth Jones and David Goodman
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