Outrage as Russian forces attack Ukrainian nuclear plant

04 March 2022, 06:43 pm | Updated: 04 October 2023, 03:26 am

Outrage as Russian forces attack Ukrainian nuclear plant
Photo: collected

Ukraine accused the Kremlin of "nuclear terror" and the West expressed horror on Friday, after Europe's largest atomic power plant was attacked and taken over by invading Russian forces.

Blasts lit up the night sky as the plant at Zaporizhzhia came under shell fire, while Russian troops advanced in southern Ukraine and bombarded several cities elsewhere.

Ukrainian firefighters said they were prevented from accessing the site initially, before they were able to douse a blaze at a training facility on the site.

The six reactors at Zaporizhzhia, which can power enough energy for four million homes, were apparently undamaged and international monitors reported no spike in radiation.

The attack killed three Ukrainian soldiers, according to Kyiv's nuclear operator Energoatom, and was slammed in Washington, London and other Western capitals as utterly irresponsible.

"We survived a night that could have stopped the story, the history of Ukraine, the history of Europe," Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelensky said.

An explosion at Zaporizhzhia would have equalled "six Chernobyls", he said, referring to the plant in Ukraine that was the site of the world's worst nuclear disaster in 1986, reports AFP.

"Russian tank commanders knew what they were firing at," Zelensky alleged, adding: "The terrorist state now resorted to nuclear terror."

For its part, Moscow said the attack on Zaporizhzhia was staged by "Ukrainian sabotage groups with the participation of foreign mercenaries".

"The goal of the provocation at the nuclear station was to try to accuse Russia of creating a radioactive flashpoint," Russian defence ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov claimed.

"This shows the Kyiv regime's criminal plan," he said, adding that the plant had been secured by Russian troops and was functioning normally.

After phoning Zelensky during the night, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson demanded an urgent meeting of the UN Security Council.

He accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of "reckless actions" that "could now directly threaten the safety of all of Europe", and pressed anew for a ceasefire.

Putin, however, has been unrepentant about an offensive that has cast Russia into the economic, sporting and cultural equivalent of exile to Siberia.

He said Thursday that the invasion was going "strictly according to schedule, according to plan" in its aim of driving out the "neo-Nazis" in Kyiv led by Zelensky -- who is Jewish.

Addressing security chiefs in televised comments, Putin added that he would never abandon his conviction "that Russians and Ukrainians are one people". French President Emmanuel Macron, after speaking to Putin on Thursday, believes "the worst is to come", an aide said.

Category : International