Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu warned that Ukraine’s raids on the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant could pose a threat of nuclear disaster.
“Our units are taking all measures to ensure the safety of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant. In return, the Kiev authorities seek to create the threat of nuclear disaster by continuing to deliberately shell this facility,” Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu told military commanders at a meeting on December 6.
According to Shoigu, Ukraine has fired 33 large artillery shells at the Zaporizhzhia plant in the past two weeks. Most of these shells were intercepted by Russian air defenses, although some still hit facilities, which “affected the safe operation of nuclear power plants,” the Russian defense minister said.
“We consider these attacks by the Ukrainian army as nuclear terrorism,” Shoigu warned.
Zaporizhzhia is Europe’s largest nuclear power plant located in southern Ukraine, supplying electricity to a large area of Ukraine as well as selling electricity to many neighboring countries. After the breakaway province of Zaporizhzhia voted to join Russia, the plant was transferred to the control of Russian engineers and is providing a steady supply of electricity to the breakaway regions of southern Ukraine and the Crimean peninsula.
Russia and Ukraine blame each other for the recent shelling of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant. The Kremlin called on “all countries of the world” to pressure Kiev to stop attacks on the factory.
Kiev wants to regain the Zaporizhzhia plant to make up for the lack of electricity after Russia’s raids on energy facilities across Ukraine in the past.
The repeated shelling of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant raised concerns about the possibility of a serious incident in an area just 500km from Chernobyl. The Chernobyl plant was the site of the world’s worst nuclear disaster in 1986.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is promoting the establishment of a security zone around the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, fearing a nuclear disaster similar to the Chornobyl disaster. On December 6, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said there was “positive momentum” in discussions with the IAEA about the idea. However, Russia has confirmed that it will not withdraw from the Zaporizhzhia plant.
“There has not been any discussion about withdrawing the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant from Russian control or transferring control of the plant to a third party. The plant is located on Russian territory and is controlled by Russia. We believe that only we can guarantee the safety of the plant,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said.
Moscow has repeatedly asserted that the sole purpose of Russia’s takeover of the Zaporizhzhia plant is to “prevent Ukrainian nationalist forces and foreign mercenaries from taking advantage of the current situation in Ukraine to carry out a provocation.” nuclear incentives with the most unpredictable consequences”.