US warns Moscow not to divert power from Ukraine nuclear plant

Washington on Thursday warned Russia against diverting energy from a nuclear plant Kiev says was cut off from its grid, as calls for an independent inspection of the facility mount.

Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant is under occupation by Moscow's troops and was disconnected from the national power supply on Thursday, the state energy operator said.

The United States cautioned Russia against redirecting energy from the site.

"The electricity that it produces rightly belongs to Ukraine and any attempt to disconnect the plant from the Ukrainian power grid and redirect to occupied areas is unacceptable," State Department spokesman Vedant Patel told reporters.

"No country should turn a nuclear power plant into an active war zone and we oppose any Russian efforts to weaponise or divert energy from the plant."

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said Ukraine had informed it the plant temporarily lost connection -- "further underlining the urgent need for an IAEA expert mission to travel to the facility".

"We can't afford to lose any more time. I'm determined to personally lead an IAEA mission to the plant in the next few days," the organisation's Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi said.

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre urged Russia to agree to a demilitarised zone around the plant and "allow the IAEA to visit as soon as possible to check on the safety."

The Zaporizhzhia plant -- Europe's largest nuclear facility -- has been occupied by Russian troops in southern Ukraine since the opening weeks of the war, and remained on the frontlines ever since.

Recently Moscow and Kiev have traded blame for shelling around the complex, a "highly volatile" development the IAEA says ...

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