Moscow threatens to close Zaporizhzhia NPP as shelling damages the plant’s backup support systems

Russia's defense ministry said the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine could be shut down if Ukrainian forces continue shelling the facility, something Kyiv denies doing.

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Joseph P Chacko
Joseph P Chacko
Joseph P. Chacko is the publisher of Frontier India, portal publishing news and current affairs. He holds an M.B.A in International Business from the Maharishi University of Management, Iowa, USA. Twitter: @chackojoseph *views are Personal.

The head of Russia’s Radioactive, Chemical and Biological Defense Forces, Igor Kirilov, told a briefing that the plant’s backup support systems had been damaged due to the shelling.

Kirilov said that the radioactive material would cover Germany, Poland and Slovakia in the event of an accident at the plant.

Earlier, an official Russian representative included Bulgaria among the countries that could be severely affected in the event of a possible nuclear accident at the Zaporizhia NPP.

While the American experts assess the consequences of direct strikes on the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant as “minimal”, the Russian Defense Ministry said that the catastrophe at the nuclear power plant would have huge consequences for European countries.

If backup diesel generators and mobile pumps fail and reactors collapse, Europe’s largest nuclear power plant will release radioactive substances into the atmosphere, which will then spread hundreds of kilometres, said the Russian MoD.

The Zaporizhia plant was seized by Russian forces in March. However, they kept her Ukrainian staff. The plant remains close to the front line and has come under repeated fire in recent weeks. Russia and Ukraine blame each other for this.

Ukraine and the UN have requested an international mission to assess the facility’s safety situation on the ground, but Russia is placing conditions on the route experts must take to reach the facilities.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is expected to visit the Zaporizhia NPP on Friday. Moscow claims that Kyiv is preparing provocations during the visit.

Russia continues to charge Ukraine with shelling the plant

Ukrainian troops shelled the area of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, according to Volodymyr Rogov, a member of the Zaporizhzhia region’s main council of administration and the leader of the public movement “We are with Russia.”

“At least six arrivals were recorded in the area where the Zaporizhzhia NPP is located. Damage is being assessed. So far, there has been no information about the victims. There were no hits on the nuclear plant itself. The NPP continues to operate normally,” he said on August 17.

Earlier it was reported that Ukrainian troops opened massive fire on Energodar in the Zaporizhzhia region.

Before that, two artillery gunners of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, who worked at the nuclear power plant, were detained in the city.

Possible effects of a nuclear fallout from Zaporizhzhya NPP
Possible effects of a nuclear fallout from Zaporizhzhya NPP. Image Russian MoD

In recent weeks, the Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU) have been regularly attacking the ZNPP, which threatens with a large-scale nuclear catastrophe, says Russian media. According to Vladimir Rogov, servicemen of the 44th artillery brigade of the Armed Forces of Ukraine use guided missiles and Western-made shells. The shelling has already damaged the high-voltage line of the Kakhovskaya substation; the personnel had to reduce the capacity of two power units.

During the Russian special operation to denazify and demilitarize Ukraine, the Russian military took the Kherson and Azov parts of the Zaporizhzhia region. Russian Civil-military administrations are working there, broadcasting Russian TV channels and radio stations have begun, the ruble has been put into circulation, and trade ties with Crimea are restored. The liberated regions announced plans to become part of Russia.

The United States, at a meeting of the UN Security Council on August 11, indicated that for the security of the ZNPP, Russian troops should be withdrawn from there. Russia’s permanent representative to the UN, Vasily Nebenzya, did not support the proposal to create a demilitarized zone around the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.

Russia explains why Ukraine wants to shell the Zaporizhzhia NPP

The head of the National Defense Control Center of the Russian Federation, Mikhail Mizintsev, says that there is every reason to believe that the Ukrainian side is preparing new large-scale provocations in the area of ​​​​the Kakhovka reservoir, which borders the nuclear plant. Apparently, he thinks that representatives of the IAEA will not reach the station in any way.

Believing that the Russian side intends to disconnect the plant from the unified system of Ukraine and reconnect it to the Russian system, and create a single energy ring in the south of Ukraine and Donbas, the Ukrainian authorities seek to “cut down” the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant creating enormous risks for throughout Europe.

Until recently, the Ukrainian military carried out explosions on the territory of the Zaporizhzhia power plant, hit a few meters from the reactor cooling tank, and as a result of which, 11 employees were injured.

Earlier, when it was in Ukrainian control, spent fuel was being stored in the plant since Russia stopped taking this fuel. There are about 200 concrete canisters containers. 

The station currently supplies electricity to Ukraine and is under the control of Ukrenergoatom. Russians say they have consultants posted there, and they do not manage the plant. The Russian army says that it does not have heavy weapons at the Zaporizhzhya NPP, and only security units are stationed there.

Ukraine might stage an attack during the visit of UN Secretary-General Guterres

According to the Russian Ministry of Defense, Ukraine may launch an attack on the nuclear plant during the visit of the UN Secretary-General. AFU plans to fully deploy radiation observation posts in formations, military units, and subunits deployed in Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia Region, which is part of the Dnieper task force. It is also providing 100% of servicemen with NBC protection equipment and conducts chemical and radiation protection training and other safety measures for Guterres’ visit. Units of the 44th Artillery Brigade, in particular, have been ordered to be ready to act in radioactive contamination of the terrain by August 19. Units of the 704th Separate Regiment of AFU’s NBCP regiment are also being redeployed to the area.

Artillery strikes on ZNPP are planned from Nikopol city. This “show” will be accompanied by public announcements about rising radiation levels and other “special effects.” The staging is being done in order to persuade the UN Secretary-General and the international community to cover up favourable decisions for Kyiv.

As per the Russian MoD, the ultimate goal of the Ukrainian provocation is to establish a 30-kilometre exclusion zone, to bring international forces and foreign observers to ZNPP territory, and accuse the Russian Armed Forces of nuclear terrorism.

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