Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant during shelling
Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant during shelling Zaporizhzhya NPP via YouTube/via REUTERS

The presidents of Russia and France held talks on Sunday regarding safety at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant in Ukraine, with Russian President Vladimir Putin blaming Ukrainian forces while French President Emmanuel Macron pointed the finger at Russian troops.

Separate readouts from the Kremlin and the Elysee Palace, quoted by the Reuters news agency, highlighted the difficulties in trying to find an accord to ensure safety at the site.

"The Russian side drew attention to regular Ukrainian attacks on the plant's facilities, including radioactive waste storage, which is fraught with catastrophic consequences," said a statement published on the Kremlin's website.

It called for a "non-politicized interaction" on the matter with the participation of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

In its statement, the French presidency said the occupation by Russian troops of the plant was what was putting it at risk.

"He (Macron) asked that Russian forces withdraw their heavy and light weapons from it (Zaporizhzhia) and that the IAEA's recommendations be followed to ensure safety at the site," the Elysee said.

The Zaporizhzhia complex has been occupied by Russian forces and operated by Ukrainian workers since the early days of the war.

Russia and Ukraine have accused each other of shelling the nuclear installation, sparking fears of a nuclear accident.

Last week, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) called for the creation of a “safety zone” around the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant.

IAEA inspectors had previously revealed that upon visiting the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, they discovered that its physical integrity had been “violated.

On Sunday, the IAEA said a backup power line to the plant had been restored, providing it with the external electricity it needs to cool its reactors and defend against the risk of a meltdown. State agency Energoatom had earlier said it halted operations at the plant as a safety step.