A crater was blown by a Russian missile close to a nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine on Monday, which caused damage to nearby industrial equipment without affecting the reactors. As a result, Ukrainian authorities have condemned this act as terrorism involving nuclear weapons. In the city of Yuzhnoukrainsk in Mykolaiv province, the missile struck within three hundred meters of the South Ukraine Nuclear Power Plant’s reactors, leaving a two-meter deep and four-meter-wide hole.
The Ukrainian nuclear energy operator said a Russian missile struck near a nuclear power plant in the country’s southern region. Nuclear power station Pivdennoukrainsk was not damaged by the missile that landed 300 meters away from it, according to Energoatom.#RussianStrike pic.twitter.com/GnmwgQIXRx
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The workers reported no injuries, and the reactors were operating normally. However, the proximity of the strike renewed concerns that a radiation disaster could result from Russia’s nearly 7-month long war in Ukraine. It is the second largest nuclear power plant in Ukraine after the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear facility, which has repeatedly come under missile attacks. Last week, Russian President Vladimir Putin threatened to escalate his aggression against Ukrainian infrastructure following recent battlefield setbacks.
As a result of the Russian strikes on Ukrainian electricity generation and transmission equipment throughout the war, blackouts have occurred, and nuclear power plant safety systems have been endangered. The South Ukraine plant is part of a large industrial complex along the Southern Bug River, about three kilometers south-southwest of the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv. In addition, Ukrainian authorities reported that an attack on a hydroelectric plant on the edge of Kyiv caused a temporary shutdown of the plant, and over a hundred of its windows were shattered in the attack.
Attack Suffered Several Power Lines to Knock Out
The U.N.’s International Atomic Energy Agency said three power lines were knocked offline but later reconnected. According to the IAEA of the U.N., several power lines were knocked out of service but later reconnected. In a black-and-white video released by Ukraine’s Defense Ministry, two giant fireballs erupted nineteen minutes after midnight, followed by incandescent spark showers. Energoatom and the Ministry of Defense called the strike “nuclear terrorism.”
There was no immediate comment from the Russian Defense Ministry. Zaporizhzhia, the largest nuclear plant in Europe, has been occupied by Russian forces since shortly after the invasion. Several transmission lines have been damaged by shelling, resulting in the shutdown of the plant’s six reactors. There has been a blame game between Russia and Ukraine regarding the strikes.
The International Atomic Energy Agency, which has monitors stationed at the Zaporizhzhia plant, reported that the main transmission line was reconnected on Friday, allowing the reactors to be cooled.
Putin Warned to Ramp-up Strikes
According to the city mayor of Enerhodar, where the Zaporizhzhia plant is located, more Russian shelling occurred in the city’s industrial area on Monday. The Russian president warned on Friday of a possible ramp-up of strikes, claiming his forces had up to this point acted with restraint but warned that “if the situation continues to develop this way, their response will become more serious.”
In recent weeks, the Russian military has conducted several significant operations,” he explained. It would be appropriate to consider those attacks as warning strikes. It was reported Monday that at least eight civilians had been killed and 22 have been injured in the latest Russian shelling. Several medical workers were killed by Russian shells while trying to evacuate patients from Kharkiv’s northeastern region, which is now mainly in Ukrainian hands. The shelling also injured two patients.
Patricia Lewis, the international security research director at the Chatham House think-tank in London, has stated that the Russian military is attempting to take Ukrainian nuclear plants offline before winter by attacking the Zaporizhzhia plant and the South Ukraine plant. The Associated Press quoted Lewis saying, “Targeting a nuclear station is very dangerous and illegal.” He added, “The generals will be able to determine the intention, but there is no doubt that a pattern has emerged.”
It is necessary to supply power to pumps that circulate cooling water to the reactors to prevent overheating and – in the worst-case scenario – the meltdown of nuclear fuel, which will release a high level of radiation. A power plant in the north of Ukraine and a dam in the south have been targeted as part of recent Russian attacks on Ukrainian infrastructure.
On Monday, a Russian official rejected Ukraine’s allegations that Russian troops committed war crimes in Kharkiv. In response to a reporter’s question, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the story was a lie and that he would defend the truth. Last week, Ukrainian officials said at least 440 bodies were found in woodlands near Izium. The discovery led Ukraine to conclude that Russian forces committed war crimes.
Investigators found new evidence on Saturday that some soldiers buried in Izium have been tortured. Izium is one of more than 20 towns that Ukraine has retaken from Russia in the Kharkiv region. One site contained seventeen bodies, some of which were tortured.