Zaporizhia nuclear power plant: Russia and Ukraine accuse each other after new shootings

Kiev and Moscow again exchanged, on Saturday August 13, accusations of shooting at the Zaporijjia nuclear power plant, the largest in Europe, occupied by Russia and targeted several times for a week. “Limit your presence in the streets of Enerhodar! We have received information about new provocations from the Russian occupiers, Ukrainian nuclear agency Energoatom said on Telegram, republishing the message from a local leader of Enerhodar – the city in which the plant is located – who remained loyal in Kyiv.

“According to the testimonies of the inhabitants, bombardments are again in progress in the direction of the nuclear power plant of Zaporijjia. […] The interval between the start and the arrival of the shots is 3-5 seconds,” the message adds.

The damaged plant

At the end of the day, Ukrainian military intelligence affirmed that “the occupiers [russes] bomb the nuclear power plant […] from the village of Vodiané, located in the immediate vicinity, on the right bank of the Dnieper “, the river which separates the zones in the hands of the Russians from those controlled by the Ukrainian authorities. One of the strikes damaged a pumping unit and another “resulted in the partial destruction of the fire department responsible for the safety of the nuclear power plant”, according to a military intelligence statement which also accuses the Russian forces of “preparing provocations under the Ukrainian flag”.

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For their part, the occupation authorities installed by Russia in the areas it has conquered in the Zaporizhia region have unsurprisingly accused the Ukrainian forces of being behind the firing. “Enerhodar and the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant are again under fire from militants [du président ukrainien Volodymyr] Zelensky,” a member of the pro-Russian military and civil administration, Vladimir Rogov, said on Telegram. The projectiles fell “in areas located on the banks of the Dnieper and in the power plant”, he said, without reporting any casualties or damage.

Nuclear “blackmail”

In his daily address, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky denounced “Russian blackmail” around the nuclear site. “The occupiers are trying to intimidate people in an extremely cynical way by using the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant,” the president said, claiming that Russian forces are “hiding” behind the plant to bomb the Ukrainian-held towns of Nikopol and Margarets. “Every day spent by the Russian contingent on the territory of the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant and neighboring regions increases the nuclear threat to Europe”, he warned, calling for “new sanctions against Russia” in order to “block the Russian nuclear industry”. He added that those responsible for the “blackmail” should “be tried in an international court”.

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Several bombings, of which the two parties accuse each other, have targeted the Zaporijjia power plant since last week, raising fears of a nuclear disaster and provoking a meeting of the UN Security Council on Thursday. The first strikes, on August 5, notably hit a high-voltage power line transformer, causing the automatic shutdown of reactor No. 3 of Europe’s largest nuclear power plant and the start-up of its emergency generators. The latest strikes on Thursday damaged a pumping station and sensors for measuring radioactivity. The Ukrainian authorities, supported by their Western allies, are calling for the demilitarization of the area and the withdrawal of Russian troops who have occupied the site since March.

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