Russia accuses Ukraine of attacking Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, Kyiv denies involvement

UN’s atomic watchdog expressed concern over the attack

Russia Ukraine nuclear power plant attack (File) A view shows Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant from the bank of Kakhovka Reservoir near the town of Nikopol after the Nova Kakhovka dam breached, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine | Reuters

With the Russia-Ukraine war raging, the latest drone strikes against the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant have raised risks of major nuclear accidents. The UN’s atomic watchdog expressed concerns over the strikes targeting Europe's largest nuclear power plant.

Russian officials accused Ukraine of launching drone strikes against the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant. However, Kyiv said it had nothing to do with incidents at the power station reported by Russia and called them "armed provocations".

The Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said that the attacks were a "very dangerous provocation".

Andrii Yusov, the spokesperson for Ukraine's military intelligence agency said that there had been no attack, adding, that the Russian forces are “fabricating” the strike on the nuclear power plant.

However, the strikes on the nuclear power plant were confirmed by the UN's atomic watchdog agency. The agency did not attribute the responsibility for the attack to either side. The latest reported drone strike killed one person, it said.

Since the Ukraine invasion in February 2022, the plant has been repeatedly caught in the crossfire. The International Atomic Energy Agency, a UN body, has frequently expressed concern about the facility amid fears of a potential nuclear catastrophe.

The plant's six reactors have been shut down for months, but it still needs power and qualified staff to operate crucial cooling systems and other safety features.

The IAEA team did not observe structural damage to the systems, structures and components important to the nuclear safety of the plant, it said.

Taking to X, IAEA chief Rafael Mariano Grossi said the main reactor containment structures took at least three direct hits. “This cannot happen,” he said.

The damage has not compromised nuclear safety, but this is a serious incident (with the) potential to undermine (the) integrity of the reactor's containment system, he said.

“This is a major escalation of the nuclear safety and security dangers,” Director General Grossi said. “Such reckless attacks significantly increase the risk of a major nuclear accident and must cease immediately,” said Grossi.

Zaporizhzhia is one of four regions that Russia illegally annexed in September 2022.

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