Ukraine nuclear disaster fears as Macron talks tough and demands Russian exit

French President Emmanuel Macron called on Tuesday for the withdrawal of Russian forces from the Zaporizhjia nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine, underlining the “risks” that their presence poses to the safety of the site.

In a telephone conversation with his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky, he stressed “his concern about the threat posed by the presence and actions of the Russian armed forces and the context of war with ongoing conflicts on the safety and security of Ukrainian nuclear facilities, and called for the withdrawal of these forces,” the Elysée said.

For his part, the Ukrainian president called for “tougher sanctions against Russia,” he said on his Twitter account.

The two leaders discussed “the situation on the front line” and “Russia’s nuclear terrorism” around the Zaporizhia power plant, said Volodymyr Zelensky.

The plant, Europe’s largest, was seized in early March by Russian troops at the start of their invasion of Ukraine on 24 February.

Since the end of July, several strikes, for which both sides accuse each other, have targeted the site, raising fears of a nuclear disaster and provoking a UN Security Council meeting last week.

He wrote: “Continued dialogue with French President Emmanuel Macron.

“Informed about the situation at the front, Russia’s nuclear terrorism at the ZNPP (Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant).

“Thanked (him) for France’s tangible defence aid. Discussed macro-financial aid to Ukraine & food security challenges.

“We must increase sanctions on Russia.”

Additional reporting by Maria Ortega

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