Return to Transcripts main page

CNN Live Event/Special

CNN INTERNATIONAL: Man Showered with Debris as Rocket Hit Kharkiv Building; NATO Official: Russia Shifting to Direct Attacks on Cities; UNICEF: Children in the Crossfire as Russia Invades Ukraine; Russian Forces Attacked, Take Over Ukrainian Nuclear Plant; UNSC meets after Ukraine Nuclear Plant Attacked; IAEA Chief: Keeping Contact with Ukrainian Nuclear Officials. Aired 11a-12p ET

Aired March 04, 2022 - 11:00   ET



JULIA CHATTERLEY, CNN HOST: You're watching CNN. I'm Julia Chatterley in New York.

BECKY ANDERSON, CNN HOST: And I'm Becky Anderson in Abu Dhabi. Our top story this hour, terror at an unprecedented level the words of Ukraine's President describing the Russian attack and occupation of Ukrainian nuclear power plant, the largest such nuclear plant in Europe.

You can see that fire there that broke out during the attack. Ukraine's nuclear regulator says the plants reactors remain intact and that radiation levels are normal. The plants' operator reports deaths and says remaining staff are working at gunpoint.

Well, the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv despite operations there being suspended, tweeting today that attacking a nuclear power plant is a war crime. CNN's Phil Black has more on this dangerous new development in Russia's war on Ukraine.


PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Flares light up the sky over Europe's biggest nuclear power station. There was fighting nearby and fire broke out in a training facility outside the main reactor complex. The Russian government claimed a Ukrainian provocation triggered a firefight around the plant, and claimed Ukrainian forces deliberately set the fire. Ukraine says the plant came under attack from Russian troops blaming their shelling for the fire.

VOLODYMYR ZELENSKY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT: The Russian tanks knew that they were firing with a direct fire at the station. That is terror of an unprecedented level.

BLACK (voice over): The fire quickly fueled fears of Chernobyl like disaster, but nuclear experts tell CNN, there's no evidence of that at this stage.

GRAHAM ALLISON, PROFESSOR, BELFER CENTER, HARVARD UNIVERSITY: Not all fires in a power plant have catastrophic consequences.

BLACK (voice over): One expert says is Zaporizhzhia's as reactor design is inherently much safer than the one which failed at Chernobyl in 1986. The International Atomic Energy Agency says Ukrainian officials report safety systems for the plant's six reactors have not been affected and there has been no release of radioactive material. But the Agency's Director General says he remains gravely concerned.

RAFAEL MARIANO GROSSI, IAEA DIRECTOR GENERAL: We have to know that this is an unprecedented situation, what we have is a situation which is very difficult to sustain. And what has happened tonight, or last night is proof of that. I have been saying for a few days now. I'm extremely concerned. This is something which is very, very fragile, very unstable as a situation.

BLACK (voice over): The fire was extinguished within hours. The company that runs the plant in Southeastern Ukraine says management there are now "Working at gunpoint as Russian troops occupied the facility". The incident triggered more international condemnation of Russia's actions.

JENS STOLTENBERG, NATO SECRETARY GENERAL: This just demonstrates the recklessness of this war and the importance of ending it on the importance of Russia withdrawing all its troops and engaging good faith in diplomatic efforts.

BLACK (voice over): Ukraine has requested help safeguarding its 15 nuclear reactors, which are dotted throughout the country. Russian forces quickly seize control of the Chernobyl site in Ukraine's north last week.

ALLISON: The radioactivity that was released in 86, from the Chernobyl crisis, or tragedy, you know, spread all over. I mean, not just Ukraine, but all over Western Europe, and into Russia as well. So the Russians understand the risks that are associated with a nuclear power plant. The Ukrainian professionals do, too. So I'm sure they're both, you know, working to try to avoid the worst. But nuclear power plants are dangerous.

BLACK (voice over): Especially dangerous when the nuclear facilities are being fought over in a war zone. Phil Black, CNN, London.


ANDERSON: Well, we are seeing heartbreaking images of the aftermath of another Russian strike this time on an apartment complex in Northern Ukraine. And I must warn you, these images are disturbing. Well, that's reality on the ground, folks. And in Kharkiv, a Ukrainian civilian speaking into his phone was showered with debris when a rocket hit a building very close to him. Have a look.


ANDERSON: Well, the NATO Chief says the alliance won't establish a no- fly zone over Ukraine despite calls for one by Ukraine's leadership Jens Stoltenberg repeating his call though for an immediate withdrawal of Russian forces and offering a grim forecast about the days ahead.


STOLTENBERG: This is the worst military aggression in Europe for decades. With the cities under siege, schools, hospitals, and residential buildings shelled reckless actions around a nuclear power plant last night, and many civilians killed or wounded. The days to come are likely to be worse, with more death, more suffering and more destruction.


ANDERSON: Stoltenberg also saying that NATO has seen evidence that Russia is using cluster bombs in Ukraine this video, appearing show a cluster bomb attack in Kharkiv the widely banned ammunitions can inflict brutal damage over large areas. Stoltenberg saying, use of cluster bombs violates international law.

Well, you are caught up on the very latest. For more I want to bring in Scott McLean, who joins us now from Lviv. Scott, I want to start with what more we know this hour about that is running that nuclear plant? And whether it's and they are safe?

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That is the million dollar question right now, Becky. Here's what we know. So the Russians are in control of a checkpoint at that nuclear site. They are also in charge of the administration building and according to the company that runs it; their employees are essentially operating at gunpoint.

The good news is that the Russians have obviously let the Ukrainian staff in to do their jobs because surely those Russian soldiers don't have the foggiest idea of how to actually run a nuclear power plant? And it's important to point out that the fighting that took place, there is not nothing.

The Ukraine says that three soldiers were killed in that fighting, and both sides continue to blame the others. There have been extremely strong words from the President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky, calling it terror at an unprecedented level.

The Russian see things very differently from their retelling of the story. They said that it was actually the Ukrainians a group of Ukrainian saboteurs who actually fired on the Russians trying to provoke them to fire at the nuclear power plant.

And Russia actually went as far as to say that they wanted to claim that the Ukrainians wanted to accuse Russia of nuclear contamination. And that is a terrifying prospect, Becky, because, you know, you heard there in Phil's story, the atomic energy agency saying that this is a very fragile situation. And the company itself that runs that power plant said that any shell that hits it will lead to nuclear disaster.

That is pretty scary stuff. I was just at a press conference not long ago with two of the negotiators that were at the talks yesterday between Russia and Ukraine to try to arrange some kind of a ceasefire and what the Ukrainians claim and full disclosure. We don't have the response from the Russians at this stage.

But what the Ukrainians claim is that they actually tried to bring up their concerns about nuclear power during that two and a half hour discussion, listen.


DAVID ARAHAMIYA, UKRAINIAN NEGOTIATOR: At the negotiations, we propose the conflict free zone 30 kilometers around all nuclear facilities. So far, their military have not confirmed this. They said everything is great. We'll manage Chernobyl together and so on, and then immediately Zaporizhzhia happened.


ANDERSON: All right. Well, that's the story on the ground. Scott, thank you for that! More as we move through this our time me I'm going to hand it over to Julia who is in New York, Julia?

CHATTERLEY: Thanks very much, Becky. To Russia now where the free press is feeding the parliament has passed a law criminalizing the spread of information discrediting the military to independent media outlets supposed to shut down this week. And access to the BBC and other international news services has been restricted, or Russian state media continues to reinforce the Kremlin's narratives.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The last person to leave has to switch off the light the first person back will switch it on, we will end up broadcast with that and a small pause the channel is taking no pass it on. No pass that on and no to war definitely no to war.



CHATTERLEY: No to war, those are the last words broadcast on the Russian independent news outlet TV reign as it suspended programming on Thursday. And as Russian aggression in Ukraine continues, so does the information war.

Earlier this week, Ukraine's defense minister warned that the Kremlin plans to release fake news suggesting that the Ukrainians have surrender. Joining us now is Liubov Tsybulska. She advises the Ukrainian government on Russian disinformation and cyber-threats. She's also the Owner of ZigZag at once vibrant restaurant in Kyiv.

Liubov great to have you with us! I want to talk to you about disinformation in the cyber risks. But I also googled your restaurant and I want to compare the images that we've just been showing our viewers with. What I'm sure 1, 2, 3 months ago was a vibrant restaurant with people smiling and how your work is doing? How are you doing at this moment?

LIUBOV TSYBULSKA, OWNER, ZIGZAG RESTAURANT: Thank you so much. I think that like the whole country, we are suffering, of course, and but I'm happy that my team decided to help our army and our territorial defense. And every day we make 6000 servings of food for them. And yes, the whole country is mobilized. And I'm happy that my team was mobilized as well.

CHATTERLEY: You said something, and you tweeted a week ago and a lots happened in many respects in a week. But I just want to show my viewers what you tweeted. EU citizens in a few years, you'll wake up from what we woke up to today, you should know your leaders simply sold your future for stinking Moscow gas, afraid of their own shadow, and turning a blind eye to our blood. Do you feel betrayed by the EU as you watch what's happening here by NATO?

TSYBULSKA: Many things, of course, have changed since then. We got a lot of support from across the world. But of course, what we really need now is to close our sky. We need NATO's assistance. And I know that the West thinks that Putin is provoked, provoked by radical steps, that he might be provoked by strengths.

But it's actually in opposite way. Putin is provoked by weakness, and by silence. And if the West doesn't help Ukraine now and Ukraine is occupied, then there is a real high risk that this third world war is possible.

CHATTERLEY: You were an incredibly young woman in 2014, when the Maidan revolution and the invasion of Crimea and you've described it, I've seen you describe it as a psychological turning point for people that that you had to, in many ways take control of your country, and that you had to take responsibility. How does that translate to how we're seeing Ukrainians defending the nation today?

TSYBULSKA: Yes, absolutely. A lot of people finally realize that there is no way back. We cannot be friends with this country that you cannot, you know, turn a blind eye to it, you have to fight we have nowhere to run. This is our land. We do not go to Russia to kill Russians, right?

They come to kill us. And this is crucial moment for all of us for our identity as well because finally, like even before this latest development, we had like 15 or 20 percent of people who have some pro- Russian sentiments. But now there are now people in Ukraine who would like to be friends with Russia or to live under the Russian rule because this country just moved to totally unacceptable tactics.

They started basically exterminate civilians; they bombed schools, kindergartens, cemeteries, like Babyn Yar in the center of Kyiv. They bombed nuclear plant. How can - how can we treat them in a different way?

CHAATTERLEY: Where your friends ever accept what's taking place? Russian rule of some kind imposed, friendly Russian Leader in Ukraine. Will it ever be accepted?

TSYBULSKA: No after everything that has happened, it's just impossible. This is our land and they are killing us. They're killing us in the most horrific way. And we will fight and nobody will accept the Russian rule.


TSYBULSKA: And you see after so many days of actually very hot very combat fighting they didn't manage to take even one big city like Kharkiv or Kyiv. And they are losing this whole war. And of course, this is a - this is Putin's revenge. He wants to punish us that we basically show the whole world that he's very weak.

ANDERSON: Here there are two wars effectively going on here there's a military war, there's also an informational war. And I think that goes to your role as an adviser to the Ukrainian government, particularly over things like disinformation, how should that be fought, whether it's in Ukraine, whether it's in Russia, whether it's around the world, how should it be fought?

TSYBULSKA: First of all, we have to expose Russian lies. But we also have to have our own narrative. Now, it's much easier than it used to be because just recently, and all these last eight years, Russia was trying to convince the whole world that Ukraine was having a civil war.

Now our people feel this physical threat, this physical presence of Russia, because we - Russia kills us with their bombs and missiles. So now, it's easier to understand that this is the enemy. But of course, it's very important to work with the Russian audience.

As you just said, Russian information space is basically closed like there are no independent media there is no ability to get some truth for them. But at the same time, I think that we should talk also about Russian responsibility, not just Putin's responsibility, because Russian society, Russian intellectuals, lead Putin to come to this and to come to this point where many, many thousands of people are dying.

CHATTERLETY: What's your message to them in that case, Liubov at this moment because many of them probably afraid to, or they simply don't know what's going on for all the reasons you just described?

TSYBULSKA: They should go to the streets, they should protest. That's what they should do. They don't want to be treated for many decades after like, you know, people of war. Like barbarians. They don't want it they should go and protest.

CHATTERLEY: Liubov good to chat to you stay safe please Liubov Tsybulska Adviser to the Ukrainian government on Russian disinformation and cyber threats thank you! Now coming up on the show in just a week the lives have been turned upside down. Ukraine's children are facing a terrifying new reality what they're going through and what's being done to help that's up next.



ANDERSON: You are watching CNN. At least 13 children have been killed and many more have been wounded since Russia began attacking Ukraine last week, countless more kids will have been traumatized possibly scarred for life.

The U.N. estimates around half of the more than 1 million people who have fled the country, are children, and the 7 million kids who remain inside Ukraine are now at heightened risk as fighting rages.

Well, UNICEF is working around the clock 140 of its aid workers are on the ground providing support with more help on the way. And it needs funds UNICEF, which is the U.N.'s children, children's agency appealing for $276 million for those children inside Ukraine.

It also needs an additional $73 million to help refugees in neighboring countries. My next guest is UNICEF spokesperson James Elder, he recently said and I quote, "The trauma and the stress, I've seen it before, but maybe not on this scale".

James Elder is joining us now live from the Lviv in Ukraine and just describe what it is that you have been seeing, while you've been on the ground? The sorts of stress that kids caught up in this are suffering.

JAMES ELDER, UNICEF SPOKESPERSON: At the train station and bus station, Becky were tens of thousands of people are trying to take that last step those 50 miles out to Poland. You cannot turn around without seeing tears you cannot, you know, look to the left or look to your right without seeing a child grasping onto the mother and the mother trying to keep it keep it strong as they've done for so long and someone just crack.

So these people, of course, have been in bunkers two nights before they've been in bombardments, they've had their dad say explain to them why they're going to another country and my dad stay behind. That's a mom and dad separate. So beyond that humanitarian need and the things they're lacking, they're just seeing this incredible stress and sorrow of their parents and everyone around them.

ANDERSON: Let's talk about the sort of money you need and the kind of priorities that you are making at this point. I mean that the funds that you're asking for are up just 15 million from just a week ago. What is it the kids in Ukraine need most right now in terms of assistance?

ELDER: Yes, I don't mean to be glib in any way. The first thing of course, as you know, from everywhere you traveled is peace. They need this heavy, heavy bombardment these weapons to simply stop. As you rightly said in your introduction, children have been killed many more than a human can possibly verify.

I've spoken to children who've lost parents, parents who can't find their children. And then for those who are still here, they need safe passage that we're glad to hear of what they call humanitarian corridors.

We need to ensure that they hold, the civilians can get out, we need to be able to get into those places UNICEF needs to be able to access those children and then half a million half a million children in seven days fleeing their country. None of them want to leave all the families I would speak to a person want to stay but it's just another nation. I can't believe we're talking about another nation where the lesson today for children is not school. This is what conflict looks like air raid siren; jump out of your bed, fleet your bunker, so, yes.

ANDERSON: You talked about this agreement to create humanitarian corridors, though; of course, there is no breakthrough as far as the fighting is concerned. So that's no good for the kids. But you're right to point out these humanitarian turtles have been offered.

What does that mean in terms of your capacity to provide relief to areas hardest hit and I'm thinking about these besieged cities down in the south. It's very difficult for us to get any reporting from inside of those cities. But the sort of videos that we see emerging at this point, are awful.

ELDER: Yes, absolutely. What these corridors would mean is that those civilians who've been trapped now for days, for days in bunkers, without water, water systems are broken. Rivers are frozen, lack of food, lack of warmth, it's bitterly cold, it's snowing most days, those people could get out and we could get into those who can't leave. That's the most critical element.

There are so many parts of the country and neighboring countries where UNICEF and many others and - shell Ukrainians are operating, but there are a lot of people who can't get out. I've been to a hospital here. There are children on drips.

There are babies in ICU in you know in ICU units. They can't leave or at least it's very dangerous for them to leave. So we're going to focus on those tens of thousands of children in institutions, many of those living with disabilities.


ELDER: This is why we need that say that this access, as you said, to the south, and Kyiv to get to these children tens of thousands of children, before they hit in more round shelling.

ANDERSON: And how do you get that access? Do you coordinate with the Russians in this circumstance?

ELDER: It's at the highest level. So the highest levels, as you saw discussions between Ukrainian leadership and Russian leadership, but for us, it's the highest levels of the United Nations. The Secretary General is consistently from day one asking for that, we know that's always what we, what we need, we will even in the east, we've been going between lines of fire.

But the scale of this conflict that intensely bombardment missiles, as such that there are areas we can't reach, others can't reach. Children can't flee from, so those discussions go on. We need truth and sincerity in those discussions. And as soon as we feel you know, once you insecurity says go, then we go in numbers. ANDERSON: We've got about 60 seconds James, you talked about visiting a hospital and the sort of trauma that you've seen there. Just describe it very briefly, how the kids and the parents are coping. They are living through this.

ELDER: Yes, it gives me a shiver. They're living through it that the parents are so steely that the support of one another is amazing. Just maybe the anecdote does it there's hundreds of these young mum. First time mum, you know, two week old baby Emma to travel 10 hours because they believe bombarded for, for two nights.

She should just be at home resting maybe a grandmother looking after her child, child was coughing blood got her to the hospital. That's where I saw her. And Emma's mom just said I just want my baby. I want Emma to grow up and to know me to know my husband. That's what parents are playing for. They're playing for survival so their kids will know them.

ANDERSON: James Elder is on the ground with UNICEF, the appeal is there. We do hope it gets the sort of support that it needs James in order to help the most vulnerable in what is this dreadful, dreadful war. Thank you.

And I just want to remind you about the rules of war focuses laid out by another humanitarian organization, the International Committee of the Red Cross, have a look at this. Civilians cannot be targeted.

Civilians cannot be used as human shields. Civilians must have safe passage to flee humanitarian organizations must have access to deliver aid to civilians. I'm sure most of you would say we shouldn't see war at all but we do. And these are the rules of war. Just ahead Europe's largest nuclear power plant in the middle of a firefight we'll ask a top nuclear expert just how dangerous Russia's war on Ukraine is getting.



CHATTERLEY: Welcome back. I'm Julia Chatterley in New York.

ANDERSON: I'm Becky Anderson for you in Abu Dhabi. The United Nations Security Council is holding an emergency meeting after Russia's attack on a Ukrainian nuclear power plant. Ukraine's nuclear regulator says that forces Russian forces now occupy that facility. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the UK Foreign Secretary had said that they had wanted to have a meeting following that attack.

Well, let's bring you our United Nations Correspondent CNN Senior U.N. Correspondent Richard Roth. And Richard, what are we expecting to hear from this meeting aside from statements condemning Russia's actions? Is there anything further the U.N. Security Council can do?

RICHARD ROTH, CNN SENIOR U.N. CORRESPONDENT: I don't think you're going to see much more because Russia a permanent member of the Security Council has veto power. When I asked one diplomat, what's the goal here of this meeting? He said we want to get Russia to stop attacking nuclear plants.

This - I've seen a lot of meetings over the years here and this is rather unique and different and scary, permanent member of the Council which is designed to protect international peace and security. Accused now of firing on Europe's biggest nuclear power plant.

We see the chamber the historic chamber the Security Council. The meeting will begin shortly there will be a briefing by Rafael Grossi of the International Atomic Energy Agency who many country diplomats that they really wanted to hear.

He said it was a close call. He told CNN's Christiane Amanpour earlier today, what happened at the plant? The Irish Ambassador said very chilling development. The French say we want to condemn this.

The British say the Russians broke the Geneva Convention illegal act firing on this nuclear power plant. But again, waiting at the end of all of this venting is Russia with veto power. They know this, but they felt it was important to have the meeting.

ANDERSON: Richard Roth, keeping an eye on what's going on in that chamber for us, Richard, thank you. Well, they are working at gunpoint now from the Ukrainian nuclear operator who says Russian forces are now occupying that nuclear plant.

The biggest of course in Europe a fire broke out. After that facility in south eastern Ukraine was hit during fighting earlier Friday. This was the scene just hours ago as Ukrainians battled Russian forces. Now that fight is out.

The International Atomic agency, the Energy Agency says radiation levels do appear to be normal. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is urging European leaders to stop Russian forces in his words before this becomes a nuclear disaster. Take a listen.


ZELENSKY: The Russian tanks knew that they were firing with a direct fire at the station. That is terror of an unprecedented level.


ANDERSON: Mariana Budjeryn is a Research Associate with the project on managing the atom. That's at the Harvard Kennedy School from Belfer Center. She joins me now from Cambridge, Massachusetts. You are Ukrainian, yourself. So before we talk specifically about this attack, and the fallout as it were, how are you feeling at present watching what is unfolding from the U.S.?

MARIANA BUDJERYN, PROJECT ON MANAGING THE ATOM, HARVARD KENNEDY SCHOOL: Becky, I'm both very worried because my family, my mother is in Ukraine. She's in western Ukraine. So she is as safe as anyone can be today in Ukraine. But we certainly don't know what the ultimate plan of Vladimir Putin is for my country. And I'm also incredibly angry. I'm outraged at the injustice and the unnecessary suffering caused by this war. ANDERSON: I think you echo many, many people's feelings around the world and an awful lot of sympathy for Ukrainians at this point who are living through this. We've been talking about the Russians having seen the largest Nuclear Plant in Europe. Explain how dangerous their actions were overnight, if you will?


BUDJERYN: Becky, we must remember that in 2009, the IAEA, the nuclear watchdog, unanimously adopted a decision that any use of armed force or even a threat of armed force constitutes a violation of the U.N. Charter and violation of international law.

So this just tells you how far the Russian regime is willing to go to in their resentment and their disdain for international law and for the rules of engagement in a conflict. Now, we might take some solace in the fact that to cause a major nuclear accident at a nuclear power plant today is not so easy. Several things would have to go wrong simultaneously, for there to be a major radiation release into the environment.

One of these things is that the confinement chamber that it protects a nuclear reactor core would have to be breached. These are quite robust structures that are made of reinforced concrete, and they're designed to withstand both an explosion inside the reactor, right and contain the release of that radioactive material into the atmosphere, and also to withstand the outside impact.

Now, none of these confinement chambers have been designed with a view of withstanding a full blown shelling or a missile attack, or, you know that this kind of intensive fighting, so we don't know, at this point, this is unprecedented how, how these confinement chambers would hold.

But even if a confinement chamber is breached, there has to be another thing that goes wrong. And that has to be a meltdown of a reactor core. If you can imagine it's a big pool with these fuel rods that contain enriched uranium, the radioactive material, and they're being constantly cooled by a supply of water.

So the safety, the safe operation of a reactor core relies on the constant supply of that water that in turns, in turn relies on the pumps that pump it into the reactor core, that in turn relies on the supply of electricity.

There are backup electricity systems should something go wrong, and the reactors should be disconnected from the main grid. Those are diesel generators. But again, in a full blown conflict, in a full blown war, even these backup systems risk being damaged.

If these things happen, and the main electricity supply is damaged, and the reactor core is, is compromised, there could be a meltdown of fire, and then you having a release of radioactive plumes into the environment.

ANDERSON: And that must be the concern at this point. Because what we are seeing is a full scale war emerging. That's what we're talking about right now. But your points being that these modern reactors have been all these reactors have been modernized, since the days of Chernobyl.

So the sort of comparisons that some have made to the accident at Chernobyl is not something we should be making comparable on at this stage. That is what you are explaining. But your concern is it seems that you know, as this war escalates, and we are certainly seeing no evidence that it is going to stop anytime soon. You are concerned that this could be very problematic going forward, correct?

BUDJERYN: That is correct. I'm concerned at the neglect and the willingness that the length that the Russian forces are willing to go to. And if they're willing to shell, a nuclear power plant from a tank, we don't know if this is the limit of what they're willing to do. They have missiles, they have bombs, they have much more powerful weaponry. I would not exclude some kind of, you know, and a risk of sabotage that could blame on Ukrainians.

ANDERSON: OK. I'm going to have to stop you there because I need to get to the U.N. Security Council. I thank you very much indeed. Your analysis and insight is so important and we will speak again, thank you. Let's get you to the UNSC where there is a debate or certainly some statements being made since that attack on the nuclear facility in Ukraine last night, have a listen.

ROSEMARY DICARLO, U.N. UNDER-SECRETARY-GENERAL FOR POLITICAL AND PEACEBUILDING AFFAIRS: --casualties and their number is growing. The U.N. is significantly increasing its humanitarian assistance in Ukraine to respond to the escalating crisis. Madam President, the Secretary General has followed with great alarm.

Reports of heavy fighting around that upper Asia nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine we understand that the fire affected a training facility and not the cooling system or power center.


DICARLO: Military operations around nuclear sites and other critical civilian infrastructure are not only unacceptable, but highly irresponsible. Ukraine knows only two well, the devastation of a major nuclear accident.

The Chernobyl disaster in 1986 stands as a lasting example of why it is vital to ensure all nuclear power plants have the highest standards of safety and security. Every effort should be taken to avoid a catastrophic nuclear incident.

The persistence and bravery of the Ukrainian personnel who continue to keep power plants safely operational during this crisis are to be applauded. Madam President, attacks on nuclear power facilities are contrary to international humanitarian law.

Specifically, article 56 of additional protocol one to the Geneva Convention states that and I quote, "works or installations containing dangerous forces, namely dams, dikes, and nuclear electrical generating stations shall not be made the object of attack, even where these objects are military objectives if such attack may cause the release of dangerous forces and consequent severe losses among the civilian population".

The Secretary General welcomes the statements and actions by the International Atomic Energy Agency on this issue and is ready to assist however he can. It's vital that all parties work with the IAEA to establish an appropriate framework that will ensure the safe, secure and reliable operation of Ukraine's nuclear power plants.

Urgent and safe passage should be granted to IAEA personnel should they need to travel to Ukraine to work with regulators. Madam President, we welcome the reported agreement between the Ukrainian and Russian negotiators during their second round of talks in Belarus yesterday.

We understand the discussion focused on the establishment of humanitarian corridors to allow safe passage for civilians, and the delivery of humanitarian assistance. We hope that this reported agreement is implemented without delay, and that a full and unconditional ceasefire is quickly agreed and enacted.

We urge the sides to continue negotiations and to make urgent progress on security, humanitarian and other issues. Madam President, as the Secretary General has emphatically stated, the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Ukraine, within its internationally recognized borders must be respected in line with General Assembly resolutions.

What we are witnessing in Ukraine today is inconsistent with the principles of the U.N. Charter. Only diplomacy and negotiations can achieve a last truly lasting solution to the current conflict. The fighting in Ukraine must stop and it must stop now. Thank you, Madam President.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I thank Mr. Carlo for her briefing and I now give the floor to Mr. Rafael Mariano Grossi. We're hoping the connection will be working from the airplane. We cannot hear you.

We've lost. Mr. Grossi for the moment, we're going to start with our list of speakers and then come back to him when connection is re- established. I'd like to therefore invite those council members who wish to make statements and I give the floor to the representative of the United Kingdom. You have the floor.

BARBARA WOODWARD, BRITISH AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: Thank you, Madam President. And I'd like to thank Under Secretary General Dicarlo for her briefing. And we look forward to hearing the briefing from Mr. Grossi.

The United Kingdom and our partners called this urgent meeting because Russian forces last night attacked the largest nuclear power station in Europe. We're grateful to the Ukrainian firefighters and authorities who got the fire under control and are working bravely to ensure that the plant remains safe.


WOODWARD: We support the work of the IAEA in Ukraine, and are relieved that so far they have reported that none of the safety systems in the plant was affected, and that there was no release of radioactive material.

Colleagues, this is the first time that a state has attacked a fueled and functioning nuclear power plant. International law requires special protection for nuclear facilities. And it is difficult to see how Russia's actions were compatible with its commitments under Article 56 of the additional protocol of the Geneva's conventions. It must not happen again.

Even in the midst of an illegal invasion of Ukraine, Russia must keep fighting away from and protect the safety and security of nuclear sites. Colleagues, President Putin said yesterday that the special military operation or as everyone else calls it, the war was going to plan.

Everyone around this table knows that is not true. President Putin misjudge the strength, resilience and will of the Ukrainian people to his invasion. He underestimated the world's condemnation of his actions. 141 votes in the General Assembly and the unprecedented sanctions on Russia demonstrate the strength of the global response.

Every day this war continues. The destruction it brings to Ukraine, the suffering it inflicts on Ukrainian and Russian people, and the risks it poses to international peace and security increase. This must stop. We call on Russia to end this violence, withdraw its troops and enter into serious peace negotiations. Thank you, Madam President.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I thank the representative of the United Kingdom for their statement. I will now try and give the floor to Mr. Rafael Mariano Grossi to give his briefing to the Council.

GROSSI: Thank you, Madam President. I hope you can hear me now?


GROSSI: Can you hear me?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. We can hear you.

GROSSI: Very good. So I will try to proceed with my briefing on the current situation in the Ukraine, and especially after the events last night. We have been in contact with the Nuclear Regulation Agency of the Ukraine from the very beginning of the conflict.

And we have in recent update and information from them without interruption. In general, the situation could describe as follows. The nuclear installations and nuclear facilities in Ukraine are quite important for big sites, 15 reactors and associated facilities plus the site of Chernobyl.

Regarding Chernobyl already last week, we were involved and it was so confirmed afterwards that the Russian special military forces took charge of the site. At the same time, the operators of the plant of the eternal plant continued to run it day by day operations over there. A few days ago, we were informed again by the Russian government that military forces were moving in the area of - nuclear power plant.


GROSSI: With the similar mission to take over control of this facility, we thought information, the sense that their advance towards the perimeter of the nuclear power plant was met with opposition and some group civilians of tracking the access to the plan.

Finally, this happened last night. In the early hours of the morning, we got information that our projectile had impact a building adjacent to the block of reactors. Six of them, the projectile impact this building, and a fire ensued, which was after some time, put out by the fire brigade, at the station.

We burn through our contacts at the regulator, but also directly from the plant, we were able to confirm that no security or safety systems have been compromised. Neither the reactors themselves have been hit by this projectile. Only, as I say and repeat this building which caught fire. And perhaps you saw some images of that, in the social media. After this, the operation of - and at the plant had continued.

We consider from a technical point of view, that operation continues normally, although as I have stressed to the Board of Governors of the IAEA that is no of course, normalcy about the situation, when there are military forces, of course, in charge of the site.

In terms of the next steps, we continue our permanent contact with the Ukrainian authorities, governmental, nuclear, regulatory, and also an ergo atom, the company which operates these facilities, and also operators there.

This is all constituents, the basis of the regular updates more than 10 or 12, at this point which you have been seeing on the websites of the IAEA. At the same time today, I indicated in the morning, my readiness to travel as soon as practicable to Chernobyl, in order to consult scores with our Ukrainian counterparts.

But also, if necessary, and when necessary to the forces in charge in order to establish a stable framework. So the observance of the basic principles of safety and security, starting with the physical integrity of the facilities can be observed.

Basic elements of this initiative proposal have already been shared with the Ukrainian counterparts and the Russian authorities, which are this point, evaluating that. We believe that having received direct request for assistance, it is our duty at the IAEA to hit this goal and to try to provide assistance.

Needless to say, in particular, Madam President, to your body and the distinguished representatives over there, that this mission of the IAEA, if and when it takes place, would not, of course, have anything to do with the political and diplomatic aspects that are in the purview of the Security Council.

This mission will be strictly restricted and circumscribed to the safety and security of the nuclear installations in Ukraine which are evidently and as facts have shown under constant danger of damage and accidents.


GROSSI: So, Madam President, I hope these basic elements will help you in the evaluation of the situation. We request members of the council, as I have done in Vienna, at my board of governors to support by efforts as Director General and those of the IAEA in order to ensure a basic element in this very difficult situation, which is the safety and the security of this important infrastructure of the country. I thank you very much, Madam President.

I will be ready in case there are questions or particular points that might not be clear, to clarify them. And thank you very much. And I excuse myself for the pure quality of my connection. As you know, I'm airborne.

Now, I'm on my way to Tehran, to deal with another issue, which is of direct interest of the Council, which is the hopefully solution of the outstanding aspects of the nuclear power program in the Islamic Republic of Iran. Thank you very much.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I thank Mr. Grossi for his briefing, and will now continue with the list of speakers and then come back for any questions to the briefers. I now give the floor to the Representative of Albania, you have the floor.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, Madam President. And I'd like to thank the U.S. - Dicarlo. And we're happy that we could listen to Grossi and I'd like to reassure him our full support and his efforts on the issue that we're discussing. Dear colleagues--

ANDERSON: Security Council, United Nations Security Council holding an emergency meeting following Russia's attack on a Ukrainian nuclear power plant, you just heard from the IAEA Chief from board a flight to Tehran where he will be discussing the nuclear power program in Iran.

He was briefing the United Nations Security Council on what happened. I want to get you to Antony Blinken, the U.S. Secretary of State who is speaking now.

ANTONY BLINKEN, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: Sanctions against Russia, the helping provided to people in distress. We're standing up together. But I have to say that as someone who's watched this over the years, both from Europe and from the United States, I am - it's hard to find the right word for it.

But let me simply say, it's been almost overwhelming to see how quickly how effectively the European Union has come together and acted in the face of this aggression. Things that none of us thought were possible. Weeks ago now are reality, because this union is strong, it's united, and is acting. And we're grateful to have this partnership because it is making a difference. I think we know something else. And the President alluded to it.

Unfortunately, tragically, horrifically, this may not be over soon. And so these efforts that we're making together, we have to sustain them. We have to build upon them.

We have to get to the point together and with, as the President said so many other countries around the world who are united in their - of what President Putin has unleashed. We have to sustain this until it stops, until the war is over, Russian forces leave. The Ukrainian people regain their independence, their sovereignty, their territorial integrity. We're committed to doing that. Thank you.


ANDERSON: OK, you were listening there to Antony Blinken, who is in Europe. He is with the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen meeting there with the U.S. Secretary of State.

The U.S. Secretary of State visiting NATO allies across Europe, including their headquarters in Brussels assuring the alliance of Washington support in the wake of Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Blinken will also visit Poland, Moldova, Latvia and Estonia.

Well, I want to get you back to the United Nations to New York. It's a busy hour. You've just been listening to the Head of the IAEA describing the events of last night at what is the biggest nuclear plant.