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Russia threatens to blow up Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant: Ukraine officials

08.08.2022 15:30
Ukraine has called for the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant to be made a demilitarised zone and accused Russia of threatening to destroy the complex.
  • Russia threatens to blow up Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant: Ukraine officials
A general view of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Station in Enerhodar, southeastern Ukraine, on Sunday, August 7, 2022.
A general view of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Station in Enerhodar, southeastern Ukraine, on Sunday, August 7, 2022.PAP/EPA/RUSSIAN EMERGENCIES MINISTRY

The appeal was issued by Ukraine’s state nuclear energy company Energoatom on Monday, Polish state news agency PAP reported. 

Energoatom cited Russian general Valery Vasiliev as saying that the nuclear facility “will either belong to Russia or it will be a burnt-out desert.”

Vasiliev also told his subordinates that the nuclear power station had been mined, according to Energoatom, which warned of the risk of a Chernobyl-style disaster.

Call for peacekeepers, demilitarised zone 

Petro Kotin, the head of Energoatom, called for a team of peacekeepers to be deployed at the Zaporizhzhia site, which was captured by Russia in March, but is still operated by Ukrainian staff.

"The decision that we demand from the world community and all our partners ... is to withdraw the invaders from the territory of the station and create a demilitarised zone on the territory of the station," Kotin said on television. 

He added: "The presence of peacekeepers in this zone and the transfer of control of it to them, and then also control of the station to the Ukrainian side would resolve this problem."

Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant shelled by Russians

There has been growing international alarm over the situation at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station, which was shelled by the Russian forces twice on Friday, and then again on Saturday, according to Energoatom. 

Ukrainian officials said Russia’s renewed shelling of the area had damaged three radiation sensors, and two workers were hospitalised for shrapnel injuries.

Russia’s Ministry of Defence, meanwhile, said on Monday that “Ukrainian shelling had damaged high-voltage power lines” servicing the Soviet-era facility and forced it to reduce output by two of the plant’s six reactors to "prevent disruption," the Reuters news agency reported.

Also, the Russian occupation administration in the Zaporizhzhia region claimed that Ukrainian forces had hit the facility with a multiple-rocket launcher, damaging administrative buildings and a storage area.

Attack on nuclear plant ‘a suicidal thing’: UN chief

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Monday that "any attack (on) a nuclear plant is a suicidal thing."

Speaking at a news conference in Japan, where he attended the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Ceremony on Saturday to commemorate the 77th anniversary of the world's first atomic bombing, Guterres added that the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) must be given access to the Zaporizhzhia plant.

"We fully support the IAEA in all their efforts in relation to creat(ing) the conditions for stabilisation of the plant," Guterres said.

Meanwhile, the EU’s top diplomat Josep Borrell said the bloc "condemns Russia's military activities" around the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.

"This is a serious and irresponsible breach of nuclear safety rules and another example of Russia's disregard for international norms," Borrell added, calling for the IAEA to be granted access to the facility.

Six nuclear reactors, radioactive waste

The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in southeastern Ukraine was captured by Russian troops in March, in the early days of the war. At the moment, it is being operated under Russian supervision, news outlets reported.

The complex is located about 200 km northwest of the Russian-held port of Mariupol.

Built in the 1980s, it consists of six pressurised water reactors and stores radioactive waste, according to the BBC.

Monday is day 166 of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.


Source: IAR, PAP, Reuters, bbc.com