Rockets are apparently falling near the nuclear power plant in the Zaporizhia region. A fire breaks out, there is minor damage. Russia and Ukraine accuse each other of the attack. Since Russia is stationing artillery near the nuclear power plant, experts have been warning of such a scenario for weeks.
Ukraine has accused Russian troops of attacking near a reactor at the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant in the south-east of the country. Three attacks took place near a nuclear reactor on the site of the nuclear power plant, said Energoatom, the state operator of the Ukrainian nuclear power plants. There is a risk of hydrogen and radioactive radiation escaping. "The risk of fire is high," Energoatom explained. At first there were no injuries. A high-voltage line was damaged. Energoatom then took one of the reactors off the grid. This means that only two of the six reactors are still connected to the grid.
Russia rejected the allegations and blamed the Ukrainian government: "Armed Ukrainian groups carried out three artillery strikes on the site of the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant (...) and in the city of Enerhodar," the Russian army said, calling on "international organizations that criminal acts of Zelenskyy's regime, which commits acts of nuclear terrorism".
The international nuclear regulatory agency IAEA has been trying for weeks to send inspectors to the facility. Ukraine has so far refused to do so, saying it would legitimize Russia's occupation of the site in the eyes of the international community.
The nuclear power plant in Zaporizhia is the largest in Europe. Russian troops took control of it in March shortly after the troops entered. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken had previously accused Moscow of using the facility as a military base and attacking Ukrainians from there, knowing full well "that they cannot and do not want to shoot back because they could accidentally hit a nuclear reactor or high-level radioactive waste stored there".
British secret services have also been warning for a long time that actions by the Russian armed forces are very likely to endanger the security of the Ukrainian nuclear power plant at Zaporizhia. The Russians used artillery units in the areas adjacent to the power plant to attack Ukrainian regions west of the Dnipro River. They may have used the high-security status of the power plant site to protect themselves and their equipment from Ukrainian counterattacks, it said.