Zaporizhzhya nuclear plant: UN team moves in as shelling nearby risks leaks
A TEAM from the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog touched down in Ukraine yesterday amid ongoing concern that Europe’s largest nuclear power plant in Zaporizhzhya is becoming a hotspot for conflict.
The Zaporizhzhya plant sits on the Dnipro River and has been under Russian control since March, though remains staffed by Ukrainians.
Shelling in the vicinity of the plant has caused grave concern in recent weeks, with an uptick in activity in the last few days.
Both sides have claimed that the other is using the plant as a military objective, with Ukraine’s foreign minister saying the Russian military “must get out of the plant.”
Russian sources claimed to have shot down a Ukrainian drone heading to the plant, but news agencies could not verify those reports.
“We must protect the safety and security of Ukraine’s and Europe’s biggest nuclear facility,” Rafael Grossi, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said.
There are concerns that the plant, if damaged, could leak radiation into the atmosphere.
The six-month-old war, now focussed in Ukraine’s south and west, moved into a new phase yesterday with Ukrainian defence forces launching an offensive towards the Russian-occupied city of Kherson.
The Kremlin also announced that it would be taking part in an Asian military exercise this week alongside China and others, however it would be sending only around 50,000 personnel – compared to 300,000 for a similar exercise in 2018.
Military experts told Reuters that it would be “smallest strategic-level exercise in year because the entire ground forces potential is engaged in operations in Ukraine.”