Ukraine's Zelenskiy: Nuclear plants need protection from Russian sabotage

68th Annual Session of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly in Madrid

MADRID (Reuters) -Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy urged NATO members on Monday to guarantee the protection of Ukraine's nuclear plants from Russian sabotage, a day after the Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhia plant was rocked by heavy shelling.

"All our nations are interested in not having any dangerous incidents at our nuclear facilities," Zelenskiy said in a video address to NATO's Parliamentary Assembly in Madrid.

"We all need guaranteed protection from Russian sabotage at nuclear facilities," he added.

The Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine was shelled on Saturday and Sunday, raising concern about the potential for a serious accident just 500 km (300 miles) from Chornobyl, site of the world's worst nuclear disaster in 1986.

Russia and Ukraine each blame the other for attacks on the plant, which is located in Russian-held territory near the front line. Reuters was unable to independently verify which side was responsible for the weekend shelling.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the United Nations' nuclear watchdog, said such attacks risked a major disaster.

Russia said earlier on Monday that Zaporizhzhia's shelling could unleash a grave nuclear accident, repeating its accusations that Ukrainian forces were to blame.

Zelenskiy also called for new EU sanctions against Moscow over what he said was its "policy of genocide" as Russian forces bomb crucial civil infrastructure. Russia denies deliberately targeting civilians in Ukraine but acknowledges a campaign of strikes against electric power and other infrastructure.

(Reporting by Belén Carreño and Inti Landauro; Writing by David Latona; Editing by Andrei Khalip and Peter Graff)