According to Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky, who was speaking on behalf of the nation’s intelligence agency, Russian troops who took control of the plant in March of last year placed what appear to be explosives on the roofs of several of its power units with the potential goal of staging an attack and blaming it on Ukraine. He provided no other details, and the assertion could not be independently verified, although Ukrainian officials have been warning of nuclear sabotage more often.
Mr. Zelensky stated in an overnight address that “Russia is the only source of danger to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant and no one else,” adding that he had spoken on the phone with French President Emmanuel Macron about his worries. Ukrainian deputy defense minister Hanna Malyar, accused Russia of “escalating the situation” at the facility on Wednesday.
Dmitri S. Peskov, a spokesperson for the Kremlin, said that Ukraine intended to damage the facility and that Russia had taken precautions against the threat. He called the atmosphere “quite tense.” He made no specifics or offer any supporting data for the assertion.
The factory, which is the biggest in Europe and the first to have foreign troops occupy it, has drawn attention from all around the world. The International Atomic Energy Agency, the UN’s nuclear watchdog, has frequently warned of the likelihood of disaster, most recently raising the alarm last month over a “extremely fragile” security situation due to shelling surrounding the facility and other security concerns.
Despite several inhabitants of the nearby city of Nikopol saying they had no intentions to leave since they had nowhere else to go, Ukrainian officials conducted extensive exercises last week to test their emergency response.
Officials from the Biden administration stated last week that they were monitoring “very, very closely” but did not feel a threat was imminent.
Last month, in Zaporizhzhia, emergency rescue teams from Ukraine took part in a nuclear crisis exercise while wearing radiation-protective suits.Credit…The New York Times’ David Guttenfelder
Following the collapse of the Kakhovka dam downstream of the plant last month, the Russian and Ukrainian warnings have been more frequent in recent weeks.
Moscow put the blame for the dam disaster on Ukraine, but a New York Times research determined that there was evidence that Russia had really blown up the dam. Numerous people were murdered when the dam collapsed, flooding the Dnipro River valley and partially draining the reservoir near to the power station.
Unfortunately, there was not a swift and comprehensive reaction to the terrorist assault on the Kakhovka hydroelectric power station, and Mr. Zelensky warned that this might inspire the Kremlin to carry out further crimes.
Using its state nuclear enterprise, Russia, which has unlawfully invaded the Zaporizhzhia region, has sought to impose managerial control over the facility, which it now views as state property.
Last month, Russian troops were posted outside the factory.Credit…Agence France-Presse/Getty Images/Olga Maltseva
Inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency are based at the site. It did not mention a higher degree of threat in a statement this week.
The Institute for the Study of War, a Washington-based think tank, noted the increased rhetoric at the plant and speculated that it might be part of Russian plans for some sort of false flag attack. It also added that “provocative Russian statements” were probably part of a “information operation meant to accuse Ukraine of irresponsibility” at the plant and divert Ukrainian forces from the ongoing counteroffensive.
In a study, it stated that “Russia remains unlikely to generate a radiological incident at the ZNPP at this time,” adding that the plant’s “reactors were constructed to withstand considerable damage.”