Ukraine accuses Russia of ‘shelling’ nuclear power plant

A firefight has been reported near Zaporozhskaya nuclear power plant near Energodar

A fire has broken out on Friday morning at the six-reactor Zaporozhskaya NPP, which local Ukrainian authorities have blamed on shelling by Russian troops. Moscow had informed the international nuclear authorities on Tuesday that Russian forces had secured the territory around the plant and it was operating normally.

The plant is “on fire,” Energodar mayor Dmitry Orlov claimed on his Telegram channel, blaming “continuous enemy shelling of buildings and units of the largest nuclear power plant in Europe.” He did not give details as to which buildings might be on fire or whether there was any danger to the reactors.

The six-reactor nuclear power plant is Ukraine’s largest. The territory around it came under control of Russian troops on Monday, Moscow informed the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), adding that the plant staff continued their “work on providing nuclear safety and monitoring radiation in normal mode of operation. The radiation levels remain normal.”

All of Ukraine’s nuclear power plants remained under control of the national operator, Moscow noted.

Unconfirmed reports on Thursday said that negotiations with the local authorities had broken down and that a firefight broke out between Ukrainian and Russian forces controlling the surrounding area. 

While live-streams from the area indicate there is indeed a fire on the premises, Reuters has not been able to verify the information, or the blaze’s potential seriousness.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba tweeted on Friday that if the plant blows up, it will be “10 times larger than Chernobyl,” referring to the 1986 nuclear disaster. Russian troops secured Chernobyl last week and were jointly patrolling the area with Ukrainian security, Moscow has said.

Russia ordered its troops into Ukraine last week, describing the invasion as aimed at “demilitarizing” and “denazifying” the government in Kiev and stopping what it called the “genocide” in the two breakaway regions of Donetsk and Lugansk. Ukraine has accused Moscow of an unprovoked offensive, with the US and NATO allies following suit. 

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