A Russian-installed official in eastern Ukraine said on Monday that authorities would ensure the safety of the upcoming International Atomic Energy Agency mission to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, TASS news agency reported.
The IAEA, the United Nations nuclear watchdog, said its inspectors will visit the plant this week. The facility has been occupied by Russian forces since the first days of the war in Ukraine, but is still managed by Ukrainian staff and connected to Ukraine's power grid.
Russia and Ukraine have traded accusations of shelling in its plant's vicinity, fuelling fears of a radiation disaster.
Yevgeny Balitsky, head of the Russian-installed administration in the region, said on Monday it had not been informed about details of the IAEA visit.
In an interview on state TV cited by TASS, Balitsky said he did not expect significant achievements from the visit and accused the IAEA of being "in the pocket" of the United States.
"As for the arrival of the IAEA, we do not expect great results. We understand that the Americans have all the European institutions in their pockets, which to a large extent work purely in the U.S. interests. But in any case, we will ensure (the mission's) safety," TASS quoted Balitsky as saying.
Kyiv and Moscow have accused each other of shelling the nuclear reactor complex - Europe's largest, raising grave international concern and calls for a de-escalation and demilitarisation of the area.
The Group of 7 leading industrialised countries on Monday welcomed the visit and said Russia must not try to disconnect the plant from the Ukrainian power grid.