Ukraine calls Russia ‘nuclear terror’ as plant burns after attack, asks Europe to intervene

Russia resorted to “nuclear terror” with an attack on Ukraine’s largest nuclear plant early Friday morning as President Volodymyr Zelensky said Moscow can only be stopped by “immediate European action.”  Russian forces shelled the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant throughout the morning in the latest military assault on the beleaguered nation, according to officials and video footage.

After fierce battles around the power plant, Russian forces seized control of Zaporizhzhia on Friday, and the workers there were desperately trying to ensure the plant was safe.

“Operational personnel are monitoring the condition of power units,” a local Ukraine official said.

The nuclear facility is the largest of its kind in Europe and a possible explosion could cause a disaster “10 times larger than Chernobyl,” one Ukrainian official warned.

Zaporizhzhia generates a quarter of the nation’s electricity. One of its six reactors had been on fire after the shelling, a plant spokesman said, adding that it was not operating but contained nuclear fuel.

The blaze was eventually contained and the plant was secured, officials said.

The attack led Zelensky to denounce Russia in the harshest of terms as he called on the West to intervene.

“Russian army has opened fire on Zaporizhzhia NPP,” he said. “No state except Russia has ever opened fire at nuclear power units. For the first time in human history, a terrorist state has resorted to nuclear terror. Only immediate European action can stop Russian troops.”

For a time, firefighters could not access the scene of the potential catastrophic disaster because they were under attack from Russian troops that stormed Enerhodar, a city of 53,000 on the Dnieper River, located about 400 miles southwest of Kyiv.

“We demand that they stop the heavy weapons fire,” Andriy Tuz, spokesperson for the plant, said in a video posted on Telegram. “There is a real threat of nuclear danger in the biggest atomic energy station in Europe.”

“If it blows up, it will be 10 times larger than Chernobyl!” Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba warned in a statement, referencing the 1986 Ukraine nuclear disaster that is considered the worst in world history.

“Russians must IMMEDIATELY cease the fire, allow firefighters, establish a security zone!”

The city’s mayor called the attack a matter of world security, as Ukrainian forces battled Russian troops on the city’s outskirts.

“Many young men in athletic clothes and armed with Kalashnikov have come into the city. They are breaking down doors and trying to get into the apartments of local residents,” Mayor Dmytro Orlov said in a statement.

President Joe Biden spoke with his Ukrainian counterpart about the attack and joined Zelensky in urging Russia to cease attacks around the plant, the White House said.

he area was later secured and “nuclear safety is now guaranteed,” Oleksandr Starukh, the head of the military administration of the Zaporizhzhia region, wrote on Facebook. However, later military skirmishes led to the Russian takeover.

The US Nuclear Incident Response Team was monitoring the situation and saw “no elevated radiation readings near the facility,” Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm tweeted.

The attack came a day after the UN’s nuclear watchdog agency warned of “grave danger” from an attack on nuclear plants in the country.


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