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Zelenskyy Speaks to Macron as Fears Over Nuclear Plant Mount; Explosions Hit Russian Ammo Depot in Crimea

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This was CNBC's live blog tracking developments on the war in Ukraine. See here for the latest updates. 

Tensions remain high over the status and fate of Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant — Europe's largest such plant — with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy once again calling for international action to prevent a catastrophe at the Russian-occupied facility.

Russia's Minister of Defense Sergei Shoigu said Monday that he spoke with U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres about the nuclear power plant and its safe operation of the facility in southern Ukraine, where fighting is intense.

Ukraine and Russia have accused each other of shelling the facility and surrounding areas in recent weeks, with both denying each other's accusations. Ukraine says Russia has used the plant, which it has occupied since early on in the invasion, to store military equipment and ammunition.

Some Russian officials claimed that U.N. officials were canceling or blocking visits from the International Atomic Energy Agency to the facility, but a U.N. spokesperson has denied that.

"First, the IAEA is a specialized agency that acts in full independence in deciding how to implement its specific mandate. Second, the U.N. Secretariat has no authority to block or cancel any IAEA activities," wrote U.N. Secretary-General spokesperson Stephane Dujarric in a statement Monday.

Zelenskyy warns Ukrainians to avoid Russian military installations due to reports of explosions

Smoke rises after explosions were heard from the direction of a Russian military airbase near Novofedorivka, Crimea August 9, 2022.
Stringer | Reuters
Smoke rises after explosions were heard from the direction of a Russian military airbase near Novofedorivka, Crimea August 9, 2022.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy asked people in Crimea and other heavily occupied areas of Ukraine to not go near Russian military installations amid reports of explosions.

"Every day and every night we see new reports of explosions on territory that is temporarily taken by the occupiers. And I am asking now all our people in Crimea, in other regions in the south of Ukraine, in occupied areas of Donbas and Kharkiv region to be very careful," Zelenskyy said on the Telegram messaging app during an evening address.

"Please, do not go near the military installations of the Russian army and all those places where they store ammunition and equipment, where they place their headquarters," he added.

— Amanda Macias

IKEA to liquidate Russian unit as part of sanctions-led pullout

A view of IKEA store in Russia's capital Moscow on March 04, 2022.
Pavel Pavlov | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images
A view of IKEA store in Russia's capital Moscow on March 04, 2022.

Swedish furniture giant IKEA has decided to liquidate its Russian unit, limited liability company IKEA Dom, further scaling back its operations after more than a decade-long presence in the country, a corporate record showed on Tuesday.

IKEA, the world's biggest furniture brand, shut down its stores in March and said it would sell factories, close offices and reduce its 15,000-strong workforce in Russia.

Ingka Group, IKEA stores owner and one of the world's leading shopping center owners, however, has kept its "Mega" shopping malls in Russia open.

According to the record at Interfax news agency's Spark database of Russian companies on Tuesday, Ingka Holding Europe B.V. decided to liquidate IKEA Dom where it is the sole owner. IKEA Dom was established in July 2006.

In June, Ingka Group said it was open to returning to Russia one day but the conditions were not in place right now. read more Ingka Group did not immediately reply to a Reuters request for a comment on Tuesday. 

— Reuters

Zelenskyy meets with former U.N. secretary-general

Volodymyr Zelenskyy asked European nations to stop buying Russian oil.
Ukrainian Presidential Press Service | via Reuters
Volodymyr Zelenskyy asked European nations to stop buying Russian oil.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said he discussed Russia's war in Ukraine with former U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

"The topic of the war in Ukraine should remain in the world information space. This indicates the support for our state. And therefore helps us bring the victory closer," Zelenskyy wrote on the Telegram messaging app.

Zelenskyy said he also had a productive meeting with ex-Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos.

"Thank you for this visit and sincere desire to help our country and our people," he added.

— Amanda Macias

U.N. secretary-general will visit Ukraine and meet with Zelenskyy

Secretary-General of the United Nations Antonio Guterres speaks to press about war in Ukraine at the Security Council Stakeout of UN headquarters in New York City, United States on March 14, 2022.
Tayfun Coskun | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images
Secretary-General of the United Nations Antonio Guterres speaks to press about war in Ukraine at the Security Council Stakeout of UN headquarters in New York City, United States on March 14, 2022.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will travel to Lviv this week to meet with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. The trio is expected to discuss the ongoing Black Sea Initiative to export grains from Ukraine.

"It's a chance for [the Secretary General] to see firsthand the results of an initiative that he first presented when he went to Moscow," U.N. spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said during a daily press briefing.

"An initiative that is so critically important to hundreds of millions of people, that is part of a bigger package, which includes the export of Russian grain and add fertilizer to market," he added.

The secretary-general will also meet with Zelenskyy to dsicuss the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant. He is not expected to speak with any Russian officials while on the U.N. mission.

Later in the week, Guterres will visit the port of Odesa.

— Amanda Macias

Zelenskyy suspected that Western leaders wanted him to flee Ukraine before Russia invaded

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy attends a working session of G7 leaders via video link, as Russia's attack on Ukraine continues, in Kyiv, Ukraine June 27, 2022.
Ukrainian Presidential Press Service | via Reuters
Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy attends a working session of G7 leaders via video link, as Russia's attack on Ukraine continues, in Kyiv, Ukraine June 27, 2022.

A little over a month before Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine, CIA Director Bill Burns traveled to Kyiv to meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, according to new details in a Washington Post report.

Burns shared U.S. intelligence assessments with the Ukrainian leader that indicated the Kremlin would attempt to seize Kyiv and topple the central government.

Burns told Zelenskyy during the Jan. 12 meeting that the risks of the president remaining in the country were mounting and that he should consider fleeing.

"Let people discuss in the future whether it was right or not right," the Ukrainian leader said in an interview with the Post, "but I definitely know and intuitively… I had the feeling that they wanted to prepare us for a soft surrender of the country. And that's scary."

Zelenskyy told Burns that he would remain in Kyiv.

— Amanda Macias

Macron speaks to Zelenskyy as concerns over a nuclear accident at Zaporizhzhia mount

Emmanuel Macron, France's president, will have a more difficult time in his second mandate after losing his parliament majority.
Bloomberg | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Emmanuel Macron, France's president, will have a more difficult time in his second mandate after losing his parliament majority.

French President Emmanuel Macron spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy about the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, according to a French presidential office readout of a phone call between the leaders.

Macron expressed his concern about the threat posed by the Russian military's actions near Ukrainian nuclear installations and called for the immediate withdrawal of these forces.

"[Macron] expressed his support for the proposal of the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency to send a mission on site as soon as possible, and the two presidents discussed the terms of such a mission," according to the readout.

 The two leaders also discussed the export of Ukrainian agricultural products through a U.N.-brokered sea corridor.

— Amanda Macias

A roundup of the Ukrainian agricultural exports on their way to global ports

The Sierra Leone-flagged cargo ship Razoni, carrying Ukrainian grain, is seen in the Black Sea off Kilyos, near Istanbul, Turkey August 3, 2022.
Mehmet Caliskan | Reuters
The Sierra Leone-flagged cargo ship Razoni, carrying Ukrainian grain, is seen in the Black Sea off Kilyos, near Istanbul, Turkey August 3, 2022.

The 21 vessels that have left Ukrainian ports are taking hundreds of thousands of metric tons of corn, wheat and other agricultural products around the world, according to the organization overseeing their export.

The Joint Coordination Center, a humanitarian initiative of Ukraine, Russia, the United Nations and Turkey, said the breakdown of exports includes the following:

  • 451,481 metric tons of corn
  • 50,300 metric tons of sunflower meal
  • 41,622 metric tons of wheat
  • 11,000 metric tons of soybeans
  • 6,000 metric tons of sunflower oil
  • 2,914 metric tons of sunflower seed

The group also said that the preliminary destinations for Ukrainian food exports are Turkey, Iran, South Korea, China, Ireland, Italy, Djibouti and Romania.

— Amanda Macias

Russian naval fleet 'struggling to exercise effective sea control,' U.K. intel says

The Moskva is shown in 2008.
Vasily Batanov | AFP | Getty Images
The Moskva is shown in 2008.

Russia's naval fleet in the Black Sea is "struggling to exercise effective sea control," the British military said in an intelligence update.

"It has lost its flagship, Moskva; a significant portion of its naval aviation combat jets and control of Snake Island," the British Ministry of Defense wrote in a statement on Twitter. The British military said that Russian warships are firing long-range cruise missiles at targets on the ground in Ukraine.

"The Black Fleet's currently limited effectiveness undermines Russia's overall invasion strategy, in part because the amphibious threat to Odesa has now been largely neutralized. This means Ukraine can divert resources to press Russian ground forces elsewhere," the British military added.

— Amanda Macias

Russian defense minister says 'no need' to use nuclear weapons in Ukraine

A deactivated Titan II nuclear ICMB is seen in a silo at the Titan Missile Museum on May 12, 2015 in Green Valley, Arizona. 
Brendan Smialowski | AFP | Getty Images
A deactivated Titan II nuclear ICMB is seen in a silo at the Titan Missile Museum on May 12, 2015 in Green Valley, Arizona. 

Russia has "no need" to use nuclear weapons in Ukraine, its defense minister said, describing media speculation that Moscow might deploy nuclear or chemical weapons in the conflict as "absolute lies."

"From a military point of view, there is no need to use nuclear weapons in Ukraine to achieve the set goals. The main purpose of Russian nuclear weapons is to deter a nuclear attack," Sergei Shoigu said during a speech at an international security conference in Moscow.

"The media are spreading speculation about the alleged use of Russian tactical nuclear weapons in the course of the special military operation, or about the readiness to use chemical weapons. All these informational attacks are absolute lies."

Shoigu also alleged Ukrainian military operations were being planned by the United States and Britain, and that NATO had increased its troop deployment in eastern and central Europe "several times over."

Referring to the New START Treaty to control U.S. and Russian nuclear arms, Shoigu said talks to extend the treaty were "a two-way street," and the situation around it was "difficult."

"A difficult situation is also developing with regard to the Treaty on the Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms. The agreement remains in force until 2026," Shoigu added.

"On the Russian side, obligations are being fulfilled, the declared levels of carriers and warheads are maintained within the established limits."

— Reuters

21 vessels have left Ukrainian ports carrying agricultural products, U.N. says

Barbados-flagged general cargo ship Fulmar S is pictured in the Black Sea, north of the Bosphorus Strait, in Istanbul, Turkey August 5, 2022.
Mehmet Caliskan | Reuters
Barbados-flagged general cargo ship Fulmar S is pictured in the Black Sea, north of the Bosphorus Strait, in Istanbul, Turkey August 5, 2022.

The organization overseeing the export of agricultural products from Ukraine said that 21 ships carrying agricultural products have left Ukrainian ports in the past two weeks.

The Joint Coordination Center, an initiative of Ukraine, Russia, the United Nations and Turkey, said that 15 vessels have also entered Ukrainian ports.

Additionally, five ships are expected to leave from Ukrainian ports on Tuesday.

— Amanda Macias

Finland to restrict visas to Russians; Estonia to remove Soviet memorials

A sign hangs above a passport control at the quiet and nearly empty Imatra border crossing between Finland and Russia on May 24, 2022 near Imatra, Finland.
Sean Gallup | Getty Images News | Getty Images
A sign hangs above a passport control at the quiet and nearly empty Imatra border crossing between Finland and Russia on May 24, 2022 near Imatra, Finland.

European countries Finland and Estonia, both of which border Russia, are taking steps to limit the number of Russian civilians that can enter their territories.

Finland will slash the number of visas issued to Russians to 10% of the current amount from Sept. 1, Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto said on Tuesday, Reuters reported, amid a rush of Russian tourists bound for Europe.

Haavisto said the decision had come as many Russian tourists had begun to use Finland and its Helsinki-Vantaa Airport as a gateway toward European vacation destinations.

"And this maybe is not very appropriate if we, for example, think of the airspace restrictions put in place for Russia," Haavisto said.

The move by Finland comes a day after Baltic nation Estonia (which was previously a part of the Soviet Union) said it would restrict the issuance of Estonian visas to Russian citizens. It also barred entry to Russian citizens with visas for the purpose of tourism, business, sports or culture.

The restriction goes into effect on Aug. 18. Estonia's foreign ministry said yesterday that the restriction "means that if a Russian citizen arrives next week at a border crossing point at Narva, Luhamaa or Koidula with a Schengen visa issued by Estonia and the purpose of their visit is tourism, business, sports or culture, they will no longer be allowed to enter Estonia."

Separately, Estonia announced Tuesday that it would remove Soviet memorials in the majority Russian-speaking city of Narva, which lies on the border with Russia, amid concerns that Moscow could try to foment divisions in Russian-speaking parts of the country.

— Holly Ellyatt

Russia blames ammo depot strike on 'sabotage'

Russia's Defense Ministry has said that explosions reported at an ammunition depot near the town of Dzhankoi in northern Crimea, which Russia has occupied since 2014, were caused by "sabotage."

Earlier on Tuesday, Russian news agencies and local officials reported a series of explosions at an arms depot following a fire at a military base. One Ukrainian official suggested the fire and explosions were the result of a "precision strike."

"On the morning of August 16, as a result of sabotage, a military warehouse near the village of Dzhankoy was damaged," the Russian Defense Ministry said, according to a report by state news agency Tass.

As a result, civilian facilities, including power lines, power plants, railway tracks and residential buildings had been damaged, the report added. No serious casualties were reported.

Videos appeared on social media purportedly showing the explosions taking place althoughUkraine has not commented on the explosions, the latest in a series of similar incidents in recent weeks.

Separately, however, Reuters reported that Russia's Kommersant newspaper reported that plumes of smoke had been seen over a Russian military airbase in Gvardeyskoye in Crimea on Tuesday.

— Holly Ellyatt

Putin claims the U.S. wants to prolong war in Ukraine

Contributor | Getty Images News | Getty Images
"The situation in Ukraine shows that the U.S. is trying to prolong this conflict," said Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has claimed on Tuesday the United States wants to prolong the war in Ukraine and that it had fomented anti-Russian sentiment.

"The situation in Ukraine shows that the U.S. is trying to prolong this conflict," he said during a welcome address at a conference in Moscow on international security.

Putin also claimed that the U.S. was trying to maintain its hegemonic status in the world and that it had "prepared the fate of cannon fodder for the people of Ukraine, implemented the 'anti-Russia' project, turned a blind eye to the spread of neo-Nazi ideology, to the massacres of Donbas residents, pumped up and continues to pump up the Kyiv regime with weapons."

In addition, he said U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's recent visit to Taiwan, which angered Russia's ally China, had been a "thoroughly planned provocation."

Russia has claimed that its invasion of Ukraine, which it calls a "special military operation," is aimed at "liberating" pro-Russian, breakaway regions in the Donbas in eastern Ukraine which it has supported since 2014, leading to a simmering conflict between separatists and Ukrainian forces that has left around 14,000 people dead.

Moscow has also frequently labeled the government in Kyiv as neo-Nazi, despite Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy being Jewish. Such claims, aimed at justifying the war (particularly to the Russian public) and demonizing Ukraine's leaders, have no basis in reality.

The United States and its Western allies in Europe and Asia have sought to assist Ukraine's defense of its territorial sovereignty with assistance in the form of weapons, financial and humanitarian aid.

Russia has said the West's help for Ukraine is the culmination of longstanding anti-Russian sentiment and has made further unfounded claims blaming NATO, the Western military alliance, for starting the war.

— Holly Ellyatt

A Russian ammo depot is exploding in occupied Crimea, reports suggest

A Russian ammunition depot has exploded in Russian-occupied Crimea, according to various sources including Russian state news outlets, the Russian Ministry of Defense and a local Ukrainian official.

The explosion had occurred as a result of a fire in a military unit in the Dzhankoi district of Crimea, the Russian Defense Ministry said on Tuesday. One local official said explosions were still going on.

The fire had then led to the detonation of ammunition being temporarily stored in a nearby depot, the ministry said. No injuries had been reported and Russia said it was trying to find the cause of the fire.

A Ukrainian official suggested the fire and explosions were the result of Ukrainian forces striking the facilities in Crimea, however, a region that was annexed by Russia in 2014.

Refat Chubarov, a leader of the Crimean Tatar community, said on Facebook that reports were coming in of "a precision strike on the military unit of the orcs in the village of Qalay (currently known as Azovske) in the Dzhankoi district."

Ukrainian officials frequently refer to Russian invading forces as "orcs," in reference to characters from the Lord of the Rings series.

Social media videos have been posted online appearing to show an explosion and plume of smoke. CNBC has not been able to immediately verify the reports.

— Holly Ellyatt

Ukraine slams 'nuclear blackmail' and calls for sanctions on Russia's nuclear industry

The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, the largest such plant in Europe, seen here in 2019.
Dmytro Smolyenko | Future Publishing | Getty Images
The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, the largest such plant in Europe, seen here in 2019.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is calling for international action to prevent a catastrophe at the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant — Europe's largest such plant — in southern Ukraine.

"Any radiation incident at the Zaporizhzhya NPP could be a blow to many countries," Zelenskyy said on Telegram last night. "Everything depends only on the direction and strength of the wind," he added.

The president once again called for "new tough sanctions against Russia, against Rosatom [Russia's state-owned nuclear power giant] and the entire nuclear industry" within the country.

Zelenskyy and other Ukrainian officials have repeatedly said Russia has stationed troops and weapons at the power plant, and used it as a base from which to launch attacks on surrounding areas. Ukraine has called that a strategy of "nuclear blackmail."

"Russia does not stop its blackmail actions at Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant and around it," Zelenskyy reiterated in his nightly address, saying "provocative shelling of the Nuclear power plant territory continues. Under cover of the station, the occupiers are shelling nearby towns and communities. The Russian military hides ammunition and equipment right in the station's facilities."

Calling for Russian forces to withdraw from the nuclear power facility and surrounding areas without any conditions, Zelenskyy said the world should know by now the dangers of uncontrolled nuclear activity.

"For many decades, the world has struggled for proper control over all activities with nuclear materials and radiation safety. And if now the world lacks the strength and determination to protect one nuclear plant, it means that the world will lose. There is still a chance to prevent this loss," he said.

— Holly Ellyatt

Russian minister of defense holds call with U.N. Secretary General

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres conducts a press briefing on the launch of the 3rd brief by the GCRG (Global Crisis Response Group) on Food, Energy and Finance at UN Headquarters.
Lev Radin | Lightrocket | Getty Images
Secretary-General Antonio Guterres conducts a press briefing on the launch of the 3rd brief by the GCRG (Global Crisis Response Group) on Food, Energy and Finance at UN Headquarters.

Russia's Minister of Defense said he spoke with U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres about the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.

Russia's Sergei Shoigu discussed the safe operation of the facility and gave an update on events taking place on the ground, according to a Kremlin statement posted on the Telegram messaging app.

The two also discussed the U.N. initiative to facilitate the export of Russian fertilizers as well as Ukrainian agriculture products.

— Amanda Macias

U.N. denies Russian claims that it is blocking inspectors from visiting nuclear plant

A Russian serviceman patrols the territory of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Station in Energodar on May 1, 2022. The Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Station, seized by Russian forces in March, is in southeastern Ukraine and is the largest nuclear power plant in Europe and among the 10 largest in the world.
Andrey Borodulin | Afp | Getty Images
A Russian serviceman patrols the territory of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Station in Energodar on May 1, 2022. The Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Station, seized by Russian forces in March, is in southeastern Ukraine and is the largest nuclear power plant in Europe and among the 10 largest in the world.

The spokesman for the U.N. Secretary-General denied Russian claims that U.N. officials were canceling or blocking visits from the International Atomic Energy Agency to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.

"First, the IAEA is a specialized agency that acts in full independence in deciding how to implement its specific mandate. Second, the U.N. Secretariat has no authority to block or cancel any IAEA activities," wrote U.N. Secretary-General spokesman Stéphane Dujarric in a statement.

Dujarric added that the U.N. supports a potential IAEA mission to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, should both Russia and Ukraine agree.  

— Amanda Macias

Ukraine calls on global community to force Russia to give back the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant 

A serviceman with a Russian flag on his uniform stands guard near the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant outside the Russian-controlled city of Enerhodar in the Zaporizhzhia region, Ukraine, on Aug. 4, 2022.
Alexander Ermochenko | Reuters
A serviceman with a Russian flag on his uniform stands guard near the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant outside the Russian-controlled city of Enerhodar in the Zaporizhzhia region, Ukraine, on Aug. 4, 2022.

The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant is operating with the risk of violating radiation and fire safety standards, according to an update from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's office.

Russian forces took control of the facility in March, a few days after the Kremlin's full-scale invasion of Ukraine began.

"Ukraine calls on the world community to take urgent measures to force Russia to give back control over the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant for the sake of the security of the whole world," the statement added.

— Amanda Macias

Putin boasts about Russia's weapons technology, claims it's years ahead of others

President Vladimir Putin claimed Russia's weaponry is potentially decades ahead of its foreign counterparts.

"Promising models and systems that are future-oriented and will determine the future of the armed forces are of particular interest," he said. Putin was speaking at the opening of the "Army 2022" international military-technical forum on Monday.

"We are talking about high-precision weapons and robotics, about combat systems based on new physical principles," Putin said, according to Russian state news agency Interfax. "Many of them are years, maybe decades ahead of their foreign counterparts, and in terms of tactical and technical characteristics they are significantly superior."

Speaking at the opening of the forum, Putin said Russia was ready to share its weapons technology with its allies.

"Russia sincerely values ​​historically strong, friendly, truly trusting ties with the states of Latin America, Asia, and Africa, and is ready to offer its partners and allies the most modern types of weapons - from small arms to armored vehicles and artillery, combat aircraft and unmanned aerial vehicles," the president said.

Commenting on the increasingly polarized nature of global geopolitics, particularly amid Russia's war in Ukraine, Putin said Russia appreciated "that today our country has many allies, partners, like-minded people on different continents."

These are states that, he said, "do not bend before the so-called hegemon, their leaders show real masculine character and do not bend."

— Holly Ellyatt

The West calls on Russia to withdraw forces from Ukrainian nuclear power plant

A serviceman with a Russian flag on his uniform stands guard near the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant outside the Russian-controlled city of Enerhodar in the Zaporizhzhia region, Ukraine, on Aug. 4, 2022.
Alexander Ermochenko | Reuters
A serviceman with a Russian flag on his uniform stands guard near the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant outside the Russian-controlled city of Enerhodar in the Zaporizhzhia region, Ukraine, on Aug. 4, 2022.

The U.S., U.K., EU and other countries have called on Russia to immediately withdraw its military forces from the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant and all of Ukraine.

"We urge the Russian Federation to immediately withdraw its military forces and all other unauthorized personnel from the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, its immediate surroundings, and all of Ukraine so that the operator and the Ukrainian authorities can resume their sovereign responsibilities within Ukraine's internationally recognized borders and the legitimate operating staff can conduct their duties without outside interference, threat, or unacceptably harsh working conditions," said a joint statement published on Sunday on the website of the EU Delegation to the International Organizations in Vienna.

The statement, endorsed by 42 countries, said Russia's control of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant — Europe's largest nuclear power plant — "poses a great danger" to the international tenets regarding nuclear safety and security, as outlined by the International Atomic Energy Agency.

"Deployment of Russian military personnel and weaponry at the nuclear facility is unacceptable and disregards the safety, security, and safeguards principles that all members of the IAEA have committed to respect," the statement said.

The Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant is the largest nuclear power plant in Europe and there was widespread consternation when Russian forces captured the unit on March 4, with reports of military equipment and ammunition being placed there.

Russian and Ukrainian forces have accused each other of shelling the power plant in recent weeks, raising fears of a catastrophic incident at the plant.

— Holly Ellyatt

Read CNBC's previous live coverage here:

Russia urged to withdraw forces from Ukrainian nuclear power plant; Putin turns to North Korea for friendship

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