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Ukraine on high alert as Russia’s planned attack on Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant looms

2023-03-09T150525Z_1421135818_RC28SX9EHVAH_RTRMADP_3_UKRAINE-CRISIS-ZAPORIZHZHIA-GRID

Ukraine on high alert as Russia’s planned attack on Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant looms
Ukrainian officials warn that Terrorism at the power plant is equivalent to a nuclear attack

Ukraine’s government has raised concerns over signs indicating that Russian forces may be preparing to carry out a terror attack on the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant. The Ukrainian military intelligence agency has revealed that Ukrainian employees who signed contracts with Russia’s state-owned nuclear energy company were advised to vacate the occupied power station by July 5.

Alarming reports have also emerged that Russia has planted landmines within the power plant premises, further fueling fears of an impending attack. In response to these alarming developments, Ukraine’s energy ministry has conducted drills involving military personnel and experts in several regions, including Zaporizhzhia, Mykolaiv, Kherson, and Dnipropetrovsk, in an effort to prepare for a potential nuclear accident.

Oleksiy Danilov, the Secretary of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, emphasized that any terror attacks on nuclear power plants would be regarded as the use of nuclear weapons against innocent civilians. He expressed his determination to closely monitor the international community’s response and affirmed that Ukraine would take all necessary measures to prevent such an attack from occurring.

Russia’s Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, dismissed Kyiv’s claims as “pure lies.” However, the US think tank Institute for the Study of War suggested that while a deliberate incident at the plant might not be likely due to the potential consequences, Russia could be exploiting the threat of a radiological incident to constrain Ukrainian counteroffensive actions and weaken Western support for Ukraine ahead of the upcoming NATO summit.

Oleksii Danilov, the head of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, has emphasized that if a terror attack does occur at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, it will be regarded as equivalent to using nuclear weapons against civilians. He stressed that Ukraine will closely monitor the international community’s response to such an attack.

Danilov recalled the insufficient reaction of the world when a humanitarian disaster unfolded in Ukraine’s south following the destruction of the Kakhovka dam. He also revealed that some Western partners have urged Moscow not to carry out this attack, warning that it would have “catastrophic” consequences for Russia.

President Volodymyr Zelensky had previously announced intelligence reports suggesting that Russia was considering leaking radiation deliberately at the Zaporizhzhia plant as part of a terrorist attack. In response, special coordination centers have been established across Ukraine to prepare for this eventuality, as confirmed by the country’s Interior Minister.

According to Kyrylo Budanov, the head of Ukraine’s military intelligence, Russia has completed preparations for a terror attack at the nuclear plant. Budanov revealed that the Zaporizhzhia plant’s cooling pond remains mined, and if the nuclear reactors are deprived of cooling, a disastrous cladding meltdown process could ensue within a span of 10 hours to 14 days. Budanov also disclosed that Russia has deployed explosives near four of the plant’s six existing power units.

In light of the escalating threat, Ukraine is actively taking measures to prevent the attack, but Danilov warned that the plant is now under the control of unpredictable terrorists. He highlighted that the missing element needed for the Zaporizhzhia plant to be blown up is an order to act, which may be prompted by a military defeat of Russian occupiers on the left bank of the Dnipro River.

In a related development, a special WC-135R Constant Phoenix nuclear monitoring aircraft has arrived in Europe for atmospheric air sampling and detection of radioactive emissions. This deployment indicates the seriousness of the situation and the need for proactive measures to ensure the safety of both Ukraine and the wider region.

As tensions continue to rise and the specter of a terrorist attack on the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant looms, Ukraine remains on high alert, closely monitoring the international response and taking all possible measures to prevent a potential catastrophe.

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