The Ukrainian power plant, under Russian control, was targeted by new strikes this week, raising fears of a risk of nuclear accident. kyiv and Moscow blame each other for the shootings.
A nuclear risk in Zaporizhia? The plant, located in eastern Ukraine, 300km south of Kharkiv, and placed under Russian control, was targeted by new strikes on Friday. As a precaution, one of the reactors was shut down the following day. The building has been at the heart of the conflict between Ukraine and Russia for several months, while each side accuses each other of responsibility for the shootings.
A new “act of terror” according to Zelensky
On Friday, new military activities were carried out around the Zaporizhia power plant. According to the Ukrainian atomic energy company (Energoatom), the bombings “severely damaged” a station containing nitrogen and oxygen and an “auxiliary building”.
“There are still risks of hydrogen and radioactive substances leaking, and the risk of fire is also high,” the company said on Telegram.
These strikes were strongly condemned in the night from Friday to Saturday by Volodymyr Zelensky, seeing it as a “shameless crime” and an “act of terror”, carried out, according to him, by the forces of Moscow. “Russia must bear the responsibility for the very fact of creating a threat to a nuclear power plant,” he said.
First shots just 9 days after the start of the conflict
The strikes that occurred on Friday are not a first. At the beginning of March, bombardments targeted the building, causing a fire, nine days after the start of the conflict. Incredible images, revealed by the New York Times, showed the attack from inside the building. “Stop shooting”, can we hear a voice launch from one of the loudspeakers of the installation.
At the beginning of June, the director of Energoatom, Petro Kotin, confirmed the passage of a missile at low altitude above the plant, denouncing an “extremely dangerous act”. He assures at the time that this is the fourth incident of this type since the beginning of the conflict.
An “increasingly alarming” situation
These firings have aroused the concern of many international actors for several months, while the plant contains hydrogen and radioactive substances, posing a risk of nuclear disaster whose consequences would go far beyond the Ukrainian borders.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kouleba warned of the potentially disastrous risks posed by the shootings, “equivalent the use of an atomic bomb”, while the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) denounced a “worrying” situation at the end of April. It then ruled on Saturday evening, after the last shots, that it now appeared “more and more alarming”.
The European Union (EU) also deplored on Saturday the “irresponsible violation” of nuclear security rules, after the shootings, and condemned what, according to them, constitutes a “new example of Russia’s disregard for international standards”. .
Ukraine and Russia blame each other
After the strikes, Volodymyr Zelensky on Friday accused the Russian army of having struck “twice the nuclear power plant in Zaporijjia”. The accusation is however rejected by Russia which speaks for its part of artillery fire by the forces of kyiv.
On July 21, Russia had already accused Ukrainian forces of having struck with a drone on the territory of this nuclear power plant, the largest in Europe.
In mid-July, Energoatom also accused Russia of having deployed missile launchers on the site of the Ukrainian power station to fire in particular on the Nikopol and Dnipro regions.
A site under Russian control
If Ukraine accuses Russia of being the author of the shootings, this questioning raises questions.
“The site is occupied by the Russians and it is not very clear why they would have fired in the area”, wonders Michel Goya, defense consultant for BFMTV.
Indeed, Moscow forces took control of the plant in early March, while the Ukrainian energy company “still controls and operates it”, according to the expert.
An expert mission must be carried out on site by the IAEA to decide, even if it has so far always been rejected by kyiv for fear that the conclusions will legitimize the Russian occupation of the site. “I will continue to push and push again so that this IAEA mission can take place”, however assured Saturday its president, determined.
Source: BFM TV