The Russian Ministry of Defence has warned that if fighting and shelling near a Ukrainian nuclear power plant continues, several European countries could be affected by a disastrous radiation spill.
As Russia’s deadly war against Ukraine continues, officials are keeping a close eye on the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, which is arguably the last thing you’d want to be located between two warring countries.
The plant’s backup support systems have already been damaged by shelling, according to Igor Kirillov, the head of Russia’s radioactive, chemical, and biological defence forces.
Russia has warned that if the plant fails, radioactive material could spread across Germany, Poland, and Slovakia.
The nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine was captured by Russia early in the war, but it is still run by Ukrainian engineers.
Both countries accuse the other of shelling and destroying the plant.
While Ukraine has blamed Russian forces for putting the nuclear plant in danger, Russia has threatened to shut it down completely if Ukraine does not stop shelling it.
Tensions erupted around Europe’s largest nuclear power plant when UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres agreed to meet Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Thursday.
The leaders intended to discuss strategies for resolving grain exports, deescalating the war, and resolving the power plant situation.
Meanwhile, Ukraine has accused Russia of using the occupied power plant as a storage facility for ammunition and military equipment as well as a launch pad for attacks.
Ukraine will be more aware of the consequences of a nuclear disaster than any other country, as it is still recovering from the effects of the 1986 Chernobyl disaster.
Former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko recently warned that a nuclear disaster at Zaporizhzhia’s nuclear power plant would be “ten times more powerful than Chernobyl.”
The major power plant produced 20% of Ukraine’s energy and 50% of its energy from nuclear sources.
Ukrainian authorities are currently conducting nuclear disaster drills in the city of Zaporizhzhia in preparation for the worst-case scenario.
President Zelenskyy confirmed this week that officials are working to bring an International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) team out to inspect the power plant for damage or potential threats, but this may be difficult unless Russia agrees to demilitarise the facility.
Rafael Grossi, Director General of the IAEA, stated in response to reports of shelling near the facility, “I’m extremely concerned by the shelling at Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, which highlights the very real risk of a nuclear disaster that could threaten public health and the environment in Ukraine and beyond.”