Tensions have escalated between Russia and Ukraine as both nations accuse each other of planning an imminent attack on the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine, one of the world’s largest nuclear facilities, which would cause a massive nuclear meltdown reminiscent of the Chernobyl disaster in 1986.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy warned, “Russian military has placed objects resembling explosives on the roof of several power units” at the plant. The Ukraine’s armed forces alleged these were placed to “create a picture of shelling from Ukraine.”
Simultaneously, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov expressed concerns over a potentially “catastrophic” provocation by Ukraine. “There is a great threat of sabotage by the Kyiv regime, which can be catastrophic in its consequences,” Peskov declared, asserting the Kremlin was taking “all measures” to counter the perceived threat.
The situation has drawn the attention of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi emphasized that “nuclear power plants should never, under any circumstances, be attacked.” Grossi disclosed the IAEA’s recent inspection found no mining activities, yet insisted on remaining vigilant due to ongoing combat near the plant.
Accusations escalated further as Russia claimed Ukraine committed “deliberate sabotage” at the Kakhovka hydroelectric power plant to deprive Crimea of water. On the other hand, Ukraine alleged Russia might deliberately cause a radiation leak to hinder Kyiv’s counteroffensive in the Zaporizhzhia region.
Renat Karchaa, an adviser to Russian state nuclear company Rosenergoatom, dismissed Zelenskyy’s claims as “nonsense, (aimed at) maintaining tension.” Meanwhile, Zelenskyy raised concerns that Russia is prepared to provoke a local explosion at the plant, leading to “the release of dangerous substances into the air.”
While accusations abound, the Main Directorate of Intelligence of Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense reported Russian forces were gradually evacuating the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, and Rosatom employees had been advised to leave by July 5.