Turkey offers to mediate in Ukraine nuclear plant standoff

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has offered to mediate in the standoff over a Russian-occupied nuclear power station in Ukraine stoking fears of an atomic disaster.

Saturday’s offer came hours before the global atomic energy watchdog said Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant had been disconnected from its last remaining main power line to the grid and was now relying on a reserve line.

Amid growing alarm over shelling in the area of Europe’s largest nuclear plant in recent weeks, Ukraine said on Friday it had bombed a Russian base in the nearby town of Enerhodar, destroying three artillery systems as well as an ammunition depot.

Erdogan on Saturday told his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin that “Turkey can play a facilitator role in the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, as they did in the grain deal”, the Turkish presidency said.

Ukraine, one of the world’s largest grain exporters, was forced to halt almost all deliveries after Russia invaded in late February, raising fears of a global food crisis.

Exports of grain across Black Sea ports resumed after Kyiv and Moscow in July signed a deal, with the United Nations and Turkey acting as guarantors.

There was no immediate mention of Erdogan having also spoken to Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Saturday to offer his mediation.

Last month, Erdogan warned of the danger of a nuclear disaster when he visited Lviv for talks with the Ukrainian leader.

The Turkish leader said he wanted to avoid “another Chornobyl”, referring to the world’s worst nuclear accident in another part of Ukraine in 1986, when it was still part of the Soviet Union.

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