Russia, Ukraine Blame Each Other for Nuclear Plant Attacks


Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Russia's forces fired twice at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant. | Image by Ed Jones, AFP, Getty Images

Explosions near Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant this weekend reignited fears that fighting in the area could result in a nuclear accident.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), a nuclear watchdog organization, said in a statement that IAEA experts on-site at the plant reported hearing more than a dozen blasts in a brief period on Sunday morning.

Shelling was seen nearby and on the facility’s property. IAEA officials saw explosions from their windows, according to CNN.

Since Russia invaded Ukraine in late February and seized the plant days later, there have been sporadic clashes close to Zaporizhzhia, The Dallas Express reported. The frequent bombing of the plant in southern Ukraine has raised fears of a significant accident just 300 miles from Chernobyl, the site of the world’s worst nuclear disaster in 1986, according to Reuters.

On Monday, Moscow said the shelling of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant risked causing a catastrophic nuclear accident, and it made repeated accusations against Ukraine of the shellings, which Kyiv denied, Reuters reported.

Russia has called on “all countries of the world” to force Ukraine to halt the attacks.

Ukraine claims Russian forces are storing heavy weaponry inside the power plant while using the plant as cover to launch attacks, knowing that retaliation would endanger one of the plant’s reactors, CNN reports.

“Whoever is behind this, it must stop immediately,” said Rafael Grossi, the head of the IAEA, according to CNN. Grossi reiterated a warning he issued in September when he said that whoever was behind the attacks was “playing with fire.”

Russian forces appeared to be attempting to obstruct Ukraine’s ability to supply its citizens with electricity, according to the country’s national nuclear power company Energoatom, CNN reported. In recent weeks, the Kremlin has waged a campaign of airstrikes and bombings against Ukrainian infrastructure to impair Kyiv’s ability to keep its citizens warm as winter approaches.

Grossi and the IAEA have asked both sides many times to set up a nuclear security safety zone around Zaporizhzhia, the largest nuclear power plant in Europe. Grossi has had “intense talks” with Ukraine and Russia about setting up such a zone, but there has been no agreement, according to the IAEA, Reuters reported.

“I think the large distance between Washington and Zaporizhzhia should not be an argument for the United States to delay the decision on a security zone,” Alexey Likhachev, the director general of Russia’s Rosatom state nuclear corporation, said. He added that if the U.S. did not approve Grossi’s security and safety protocols at Zaporizhzhia, they likely would not happen.

Russia is reportedly “in negotiations with the International Atomic Energy Agency,” according to CNN.

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2 months ago

It’s obvious the Ukrainians are bombing the nuclear power plant. Why would Russia be bombing the nuclear power plant that they control and their soldiers are occupying?