The shelling of Zaporozhye is playing with fire, says the UN Secretary-General on the nuclear program Ukraine
The UN nuclear watchdog said the forces behind the shelling of Ukraine’s Zaporozhye power plant were “playing with fire” after a series of explosions rocked the facility.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which has experts based in Zaporizhia, said on Sunday that powerful explosions rocked the area on Saturday night into Sunday. He said his experts on the ground saw some of the explosions from their windows.
It reported more than a dozen explosions from apparent shelling, with damage to some buildings, systems and equipment, but “none so far critical to nuclear safety.”
The head of the IAEA, Rafael Grossi, said the news was extremely disturbing and called the explosions completely unacceptable. “Whoever is behind this needs to stop immediately. As I have said many times before, you are playing with fire,” he said.
According to the IAEA’s Twitter account, Grossi renewed his appeal to Ukraine and Russia to agree and in the shortest possible time to introduce a nuclear safety and security zone around the plant.
Zaporozhye, in southeastern Ukraine, is Europe’s largest nuclear power plant and has been under Russian control since March, although its Ukrainian staff remain in place to operate the facility. It has faced repeated shelling, raising fears of a nuclear catastrophe. Moscow and Kyiv blame each other for the attacks.
The plant’s six Soviet-designed water-cooled reactors are currently shut down, but there is a risk that the nuclear fuel could overheat if the power that drives the cooling systems is shut down. Shelling often damages the plant’s power supply.
Russian officials say Ukrainian forces are behind the latest attacks. “They are shelling not only yesterday, but today, they are shelling even now,” an adviser to the head of Russian nuclear power operator Rosenergoatom, Renat Karchaa, told Russian state news agency TASS. He said there were 15 airstrikes, including one that hit a warehouse.
Soon after the Russian accusations, Ukraine’s nuclear energy agency Energoatom said Russia was responsible for the shelling, which it said resulted in 12 hits to Zaporozhye’s infrastructure. The company said on Telegram that the list of damaged equipment showed that the attackers “targeted and disabled precisely the infrastructure that was necessary to restart the 5th and 6th power units” and restore energy production for Ukraine’s needs.
Ukraine is facing a failure in its power supply after the relentless Russian bombing of energy infrastructure.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky previously called for all troops to leave the plant so that it would be under the full control of Ukrainian nuclear workers. His government called the attacks on the plant fake operations by Russia.
Ukraine’s defense ministry released figures saying 84,210 Russian soldiers had been “eliminated” since the start of the war, including 330 in the past 24 hours. Ukraine also claimed that Russia lost 2,886 tanks, 5,817 armored vehicles and 278 military aircraft.
Ukraine and Russia refuse to release their own casualty figures, but earlier this month a senior US general est there were “over 100,000 Russian soldiers killed and wounded” and a similar number on the Ukrainian side.
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