Russian President Vladimir Putin has approved the passage of independent inspectors to the nuclear plant in Moscow-occupied Zaporizhzhia, the French president announced on Friday, amid growing worries of conflict near the site.
According to French President Emmanuel Macron, Putin had "reconsidered" his demand that the International Atomic Energy Agency travels through Russia to the Zaporizhia nuclear facility.
Rafael Grossi, the head of the U.N. nuclear watchdog, "welcomed recent statements indicating that both Ukraine and Russia supported the IAEA's aim to send a mission" to the facility.
In the meantime, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres asked Moscow's occupying forces in Zaporizhzhia not to disconnect the plant from the grid, threatening to cut power to millions of Ukrainians.
The escalation of violence surrounding the nuclear power plant under Russian control, with both sides accusing the other of attacks, has heightened the fear of a catastrophe worse than Chernobyl.
According to the Kremlin, Putin and Macron agreed that the IAEA should conduct inspections "as soon as possible" to "assess the real situation on the ground."
Putin also "stressed that the systematic shelling by the Ukrainian military of the territory of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant creates the danger of a large-scale catastrophe," according to the Kremlin.
"Most Tragic" summer
The warning arrived a day after Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Guterres, meeting in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv, issued a warning about the conflict and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy requested the United Nations to secure the location.
"This summer may go down in the history of various European countries as one of the most tragic of all time," Zelenskyy said in his Friday evening address.
"No instruction at any nuclear power plant in the world provides a procedure in case a terrorist state turns a nuclear power plant into a target."
On Friday, when visiting the southern port of Odesa, the U.N. secretary-general stated: "Obviously, Zaporizhia's electricity is Ukrainian electricity. This idea must be strictly adhered to."
"Naturally, its energy must be used by the Ukrainian people," he told AFP in separate remarks.
Moscow stated on Thursday that Kyiv was organizing a "provocation" at the site to accuse Russia of "being accused of creating a man-made disaster at the plant."
Kyiv asserted that Moscow planned the provocation and stated that Russia's occupying forces had ordered most of their personnel to remain at home on Friday.
The United States unveiled a new $775 million armament deal on Friday, which includes additional precision-guided missiles for HIMARS systems, allowing Ukraine to strike Russian targets further behind the front lines.