Wednesday , September 27 2023

Ukraine claims Russia planning ‘massive’ incident at nuclear site


KYIV: Ukraine’s defence ministry has warned that Russia plans to simulate a major accident at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station, which is under the control of Russian forces, in a bid to thwart the expected counteroffensive by Ukraine to retake its territory captured by Moscow.

The Zaporizhzhia plant, which lies in an area of Russian-occupied southern Ukraine, is Europe’s biggest nuclear power station and the area has been repeatedly hit by shelling with both sides blaming each other for the dangerous attacks.

Ahead of Ukraine’s expected counteroffensive, fears have increased that a nuclear disaster could occur amid rising military activity around Zaporizhzhia.

“Russians are preparing massive provocation and imitation of the accident at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant in the nearest hours,” the Ukrainian defence ministry’s intelligence directorate said on Friday.

“They are planning to attack the territory of the ZNPP (Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant). After that, they will announce the leakage of the radioactive substances,” the intelligence directorate said in a statement and later on social media channels.

Reports of radioactive material leaking from the plant would cause a global incident and force an investigation by international authorities, during which all hostilities would be stopped, the directorate said. Russia would then use that pause in fighting to regroup its forces and better prepare to stop the Ukrainian counteroffensive, the intelligence service said.

“They obviously will blame Ukraine,” the directorate said, adding that the attack’s aim would be to “provoke the international community” into investigating the incident and forcing a pause in fighting.

Experts say that reports of a radiation leak at the plant would be followed by immediate evacuations, which could be extremely complex in a war zone. According to experts, for many people, the fear of being contaminated by radiation could also be more dangerous than the radiation itself.

Last week, witnesses said Russian military forces were enhancing defensive positions in and around the nuclear power plant ahead of Ukraine’s much-anticipated counteroffensive. (Int’l Monitoring Desk)

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