Kiev 'Taking the Whole of Europe Hostage' by Striking Zaporozhye Nuclear Power Plant, Moscow Says
The Zaporozhye Nuclear Power Plant has been under the control of Russian forces since March, with Ukrainian troops repeatedly attacking it using drones and artillery. The Russian Defense Ministry has characterized Kiev's actions as nothing short of "nuclear terrorism."
The Ukrainian military's ongoing campaign of attacks on the Zaporozhye NPP not only threatens the lives of Ukrainians and Russians, but of all Europeans, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova has said.
"Using various lines of communication and at various levels, the Russian side has long been calling on the international community to condemn the incessant strikes which the Kiev regime has been inflicting on the Zaporozhye NPP, including attacks using increasingly destructive weapons systems. The station came under fire again on August 5-6, and a major disaster was averted thanks only to the skillful and prompt actions of the NPP's employees, as well as the Russian forces providing comprehensive protection to the facility," Zakharova said in a statement published by the Foreign Ministry's website on Monday.
The spokeswoman warned that the security situation is becoming "more and more dangerous" every day, and said that the Ukrainian military's command seems to have "lost its ability to think sensibly" and any "elementary sense of self-preservation."
"After all, by pointing artillery at operational reactors and spent nuclear fuel storage facilities, the Ukrainians are aiming at themselves," Zakharova emphasized.
"Underhanded killings under the cover of night is a characteristic feature, if not the essence of the adherents of the Banderite ideology going back to the Great Patriotic War. But now they have targeted not just the people of Russia and Ukraine, but are essentially taking the whole of Europe hostage and, it seems, are not averse to setting fire to the region for the sake of their Nazi idols," the spokeswoman added.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres' stated earlier on Monday that "any attack [on] a nuclear plant is a suicidal thing," and expressed hopes that the attacks "will end." On Saturday, International Atomic Energy Agency Director Rafael Grossi voiced his grave concern over the NPP's shelling, and warned that the attacks might unleash "a nuclear disaster that could threaten public health and the environment in Europe and beyond." Neither official laid the blame for the attacks at Kiev's feet.
Commenting on these statements, Zakharova suggested it was clear that the heads of these international organizations were "getting chills down their spines from what the Ukrainian military is doing."
"But the question remains: are these signals heard in Kiev, and is [Ukrainian President Volodymyr] Zelensky able to perceive them correctly? After all, the leaders of the UN and the IAEA fail time after time to name the source of the threat," Zakharova said.
The spokeswoman emphasized that Moscow has provided the UN and the IAEA with sufficient supporting information demonstrating who is responsible for the attacks on the NPP, allowing them to "openly and firmly point out" to Kiev that strikes on the facility are inadmissible.
"...Assessments within the framework of diplomatic maneuvering are inappropriate here, and imaginary equidistance causes serious harm. The threat has grown to such a level that it is no longer possible to remain indifferent observers," Zakharova said.
She added that Moscow is encouraged by the IAEA chief's statements in support of stabilizing the situation at the Zaporozhye NPP, including a renewal of Mr. Grossi's plans to visit the plant after his trip was broken off by the Ukrainian side earlier this summer. Unfortunately, she said, Kiev deems it beneficial to prevent the IAEA official from visiting the nuclear facility, since the trip would remove any doubts as to who is responsible for the attacks on the plant and its employees.
Zakharova's comments follow the latest escalation at the NPP. On Sunday morning, authorities in the city of Energodar, where the plant is situated, reported that Ukrainian forces had launched an attack on the facility overnight Saturday-Sunday using an Uragan multiple launch rocket system, with shrapnel falling just 400 meters from the station's reactors.
Separate attacks Friday caused a fire to break out at the facility, with two power lines necessary for the operation of reactors cut off and over 10,000 residents of the region left without power and water supplies.
The Zaporozhye NPP is the largest nuclear generation facility in Europe, and contains six VVER-1000 pressurized light water reactors putting out a total of 5,700 MWe of power.
The facility was built by the Soviets in the late 1980s, and has had several emergency close calls over the past decade. In 2014, several months after the Euromaidan coup in Kiev, a group of armed Right Sector paramilitaries attempted to establish control over the facility, but was repulsed by local police. Later the same year, a technical fault caused one of the plant's reactors to be shut down, contributing to rolling blackouts across the country. In recent years, Ukrainian nuclear industry scientists have warned repeatedly of the dangers of "another Chernobyl" taking place owing to a range of problems, including outdated safety permits, a critical shortage of finances, managerial positions staffed by officials with no knowledge of the industry, and a switchover to the use of nuclear fuel manufactured by US nuclear power giant Westinghouse - despite the fuel rods' incompatibility with the Soviet-built reactors.
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