Contact Us

Concerns rise over shelling of Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant

Published August 06,2022
Surveillance camera footage shows a flare landing at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant during shelling in Enerhodar, Zaporizhia Oblast, Ukraine March 4, 2022, in this screengrab from a video obtained from social media. (REUTERS Photo)
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called for sanctions to be imposed on Russia's nuclear industry on Friday following the shelling of Ukraine's Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant.

"Anyone who creates nuclear threats to other peoples is definitely not in a position to use nuclear technology safely," Zelensky said in his daily video address on Friday night, calling for punitive measures to be taken against Russian nuclear energy authority Rosatom.

Kiev and Moscow on Friday both accused each other of firing on Europe's largest nuclear power station in the Russian-occupied city of Enerhodar. Ukraine accused Russian troops of attacking the site itself in what Zelensky called an "act of terrorism."

The defence ministry in Moscow, on the other hand, blamed Ukrainian soldiers for the shelling and said that while a fire at the plant had been extinguished, one of the plant's reactors had been forced to partially shut down.

Only a few days ago, the International Atomic Energy Agency expressed its concern over the safety of the power plant and said that a technical inspection was urgently needed.

The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry appealed to the international community to work with Moscow to return control of the plant to the Ukrainian authorities, warning that if an operational reactor were to be hit, the consequences could be "equivalent to the use of a nuclear bomb."

The mayor of Enerhodar, Dmytro Orlov, warned the city's remaining inhabitants that residential areas were being shelled from the site of the power plant.

Britain's Ministry of Defence also said that Russian forces were likely jeopardizing the security and safety at the power station in an intelligence update published Friday.

"Following five months of occupation, Russia's intentions regarding the Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant remain unclear," the report said.

"However, the actions they have undertaken at the facility have likely undermined the security and safety of the plant's normal operations," it continued.

It added that the Russians had used the area around the plant, in particular the adjacent city of Enerhodar, to rest and regroup their forces, "utilizing the protected status of the nuclear power plant to reduce the risk to their equipment and personnel from overnight Ukrainian attacks."

Elsewhere in Ukraine, Russian forces launched a major offensive in the country's eastern Donetsk region, the Ukrainian General Staff reported on Friday.

"The enemy is conducting an offensive operation in the direction of Bakhmut and Avdiivka in the Donetsk area," the report said. The push was aimed at positioning Russian forces for an assault on the cities of Soledar and Bakhmut to extend Russian control to the west of the city of Donetsk, it added.

Soledar and Bakhmut form part of the defensive line to the east of the cities of Sloviansk and Kramatorsk, which together had a population of over half a million people before the war.

The area is the only part of eastern Ukraine's Donbass region still in Ukrainian hands and has been heavily fortified in preparation for the long-expected Russian offensive aimed at completing Moscow's control of the region.

While the Ukrainian General Staff reported that the Russian assault on Bakhmut had so far been unsuccessful, it confirmed that fighting was continuing on approaches to Avdiivka, directly to the north of the Russian-occupied city of Donetsk.

The report could not be independently verified, but was in line with earlier reports of increased fighting in the region following a brief hiatus.

In southern Ukraine, authorities in the port city of Mykolaiv imposed a weekend-long curfew on the port city of Mykolaiv in an attempt to root out Russian collaborators.

"Over the weekend, the city will be closed, buy water and food in time. We are working, also with regard to collaborators," Donetsk Governor Vitalii Kim said in a video message on Friday.

The general curfew went into effect at 11 pm (2000 GMT) on Friday and is expected to last until 5 am (0200 GMT) on Monday.

Civilian targets in Mykolaiv were being consistently shelled by Russian forces on an almost daily basis from a distance of about 25 kilometres, according to Ukrainian authorities.

Meanwhile Russian President Vladimir Putin received his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for talks in the Black Sea city of Sochi on Friday.

Ahead of the meeting, Putin thanked Türkiye's president for his role in mediating a recent deal to resume grain exports from Ukraine's Black Sea ports, which had effectively been blockaded for months by Russia's Black Sea Fleet following Moscow's invasion of Ukraine in February.