Eastern Europe Geopolitical Watch – From 25 March to 31 March 2023

Eastern Europe monitoring team : Séverine Ly, Vladimir Krsmanovic, Olivier Husson, Claire Aréthuse, Olga Chekhurska, Valérian Cerino, Sarah Wilpotte, Fiona Bessioud, Elisabeth Nagy

The files we follow: Ukrainian domestic policy ; EU-Ukraine relations and Ukraine/Russia conflict resolution process; Foreign policy of Belarus, Russian army in Belarus and Belarus-Ukraine relationship ; United Transitional Cabinet of Free Belarus and the Belarusian diaspora; Domestic Policy of Belarus and political prisoners ; Safe point in Ukraine ; Political situation in Crimea and the “Donbass republics” in the context of the war in Ukraine; Situation in Transnistria/ Moldova; EU-Balkan relations; Foreign policies of Kosovo, Serbia and Albania; Human rights and the fight against corruption in Eastern Europe; Energy, nuclear and renewable energy issues in Eastern Europe.

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Ukrainian domestic policy – Olga Chekhurska –

IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi arrived on March 29 at the Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant in southern Ukraine

The head of the IAEA paid a second visit to Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant to “assess first-hand the serious nuclear safety and security situation at the facility “, explains an IAEA press release. This largest nuclear power plant in Europe is occupied by the Russian army and is located near the front line.

On March 27, a working meeting took place in Zaporizhzhya between Rafael Grossi and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. According to Ukraine’s National Nuclear Energy Generating Company “Energoatom”, Rafael Grossi and Volodymyr Zelensky discussed ways to prevent a nuclear disaster and, above all, a plan to establish a safety zone around the site regularly hit by strikes and the victim of power cuts. For several months the head of the IAEA has been consulting with Ukraine and Russia to set up this protection zone.

It is a work in progress. It is very, very important that we agree on the fundamental principle that a nuclear plant should not be attacked under any circumstances, and it also shouldn’t be used to attack others,” said Rafael Grossi.

According to Rafael Grossi, Wednesday’s visit allowed him to see the damage that occurred in particular during the November bombings. “It is obvious that military activity is increasing in this whole region. There is open talk of offensives and counter offensives. This area is facing perhaps a more dangerous phase in terms of the ongoing conflict,” added the IAEA chief.

Rafael Grossi remains determined to continue his diplomatic efforts to protect the plant and help prevent a nuclear accident that could have serious consequences for people and the environment in Ukraine and elsewhere.

In September 2022 the IAEA established a team of experts at the Ukrainian nuclear power plant in Zaporizhzhya and during this visit a new group of IAEA experts arrived. This is the 7th team present on the site since the creation of the IAEA Support and Assistance Mission in Zaporizhzhya  (ISAMZ) seven months ago.

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