A Russian official said it rejected requests for demilitarization of the area across the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant in Ukraine. The official added that the move would put the site more at risk. Moreover, the calls come amid rising concerns over safety at the largest nuclear plant – as both nations accuse each other of shelling the area.
A request for the complete demilitarization of the area surrounding the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant in southern Ukraine has been rejected by Russia. In response to this move, a Russian official warned that the plant would become more vulnerable. #nuclearplant #Zaporizhzhia pic.twitter.com/ttyTbDvTq2
— Live News Now (@LiveNewsNow6) August 19, 2022
Russians have controlled the plant since March, but Ukrainian workers operate it. Russian troops seized the site following the 24th of February invasion of Ukraine. António Guterres, the United Nations Secretary-General, raised the alarm after meeting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelensky in Lviv on Thursday.
Zaporizhzhia’s destruction would be suicide, Guterres said. Ukraine’s president called on the UN to demilitarize the biggest European nuclear plant, Europe’s largest. According to Guterres, the facility cannot be used for military purposes. In an interview with reporters, Erdogan stated that he was concerned about the risk of “another Chernobyl” disaster occurring at the nuclear plant.
Zelensky Slammed Russian Attacks on the Power Plant
Furthermore, the Ukrainian leader criticized Russian military attacks on the power plant. Three leaders have urged the Russians to demilitarize the zone as soon as possible, accusing Moscow of turning the facility into an army base. However, the deputy director of the Russian foreign ministry’s Information & Press Department, Ivan Nechayev, rejected the request. Nechayev told reporters that their operation would make the plant even more vulnerable.
Ukrainian staff at the facility is under Russian direction, and the facility has become “the target of continuous military attacks” over the past two weeks, threatening a nuclear disaster. According to Ukraine’s nuclear regulator, a total loss of power supply would result in a meltdown of the nuclear fuel and the release of radioactive substances into the environment. In addition, three of the four power supply lines linking the plant to the Ukrainian national grid have been damaged by shelling.
Russian Forces Shelled Nuclear Facility
On Thursday evening, an official Ukrainian government Twitter account announced that Rosatom employees had left the facility “urgently” and that they would have an “unexpected day off.” Ukraine’s Centre for Information Security tweeted that Russian intelligence officers believe a provocation is being planned at the nuclear facility. Having shelled all over Europe’s nuclear facilities, Russian forces might ‘raise the stakes’ and launch a real attack,” the statement said.
‼️The Russian invaders have announced an unexpected ‘day off’ at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant. On 19 August, only operational personnel will be stationed at the ZNPP. No other employees will be allowed to enter. THREAD 1/
— Stratcom Centre UA (@StratcomCentre) August 18, 2022
While there are concerns about the site, it is said to be far safer than Chornobyl, the site of the world’s worst nuclear incident. As reported by the BBC in March, experts said the reactor is housed in a steel-reinforced concrete building that can withstand “extreme external events, both natural and manmade.” Ukrainian authorities accuse Russia of using the plant as a shield for its shelling of Ukrainian targets.
Moreover, the report claims that Russia has shelled the plant, while Moscow says Ukraine is the one shelling it. According to Nechayev, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will visit the plant shortly, bringing experts to determine who was shelling the plant. According to Russia, Kyiv, and the West are planning a “provocation” at the plant on Friday, which claims there are no heavy weapons at the facility. Ukraine brushed off the accusation as sarcastic and wrong.
Russian Nuclear Plant Power Blocks will be Disconnected from the Grid – Ukrainian Officials
The state nuclear company of Ukraine, Energoatom, stated that the Russian military planned to shut down the functioning power blocks at the nuclear site and disconnect them from the Kyiv power plant. Energoatom noted that it believed that Moscow was preparing to conduct a large-scale provocation there. On the other hand, Russia accused Ukraine of preparing a provocation at the nuclear plant on Thursday.
As far as Moscow is concerned, Russia might shut down the plant if it faces further attacks. Officials in Ukraine claim that Russia plans to shut down the plant so it can be disconnected from Ukraine’s grid and switched over to its own. A shutdown at the largest nuclear power plant in Europe would increase the risk of a radiation disaster, according to Ukrainian state atomic energy company Energoatom.
The report said that a power outage at the plant would prevent the generators at the complex from keeping nuclear fuel cool if they were disconnected from Ukraine’s power system. To shut down a nuclear power plant safely, nuclear chain reactions must be halted while fuel is protected from overheating and melting. Russian defense ministry and Ukrainian main intelligence agency accused the other side of planning events at the nuclear plant as a “provocation” during Guterres’ visit.