Ukraine’s official Defence Intelligence authority has announced that it believes evidence shows Russia is planning to stage an attack on the captured Ukrainian nuclear power plant in Zaporizhzhia tonight – the biggest such plant in Europe – and blame a subsequent leak of radiation on Ukraine.
The Main Directorate of Intelligence of the Ministry of Defence of Ukraine has issued the following statement:
“Russians are preparing [a] massive provocation and imitation of an accident at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant in the nearest hours.
“They are planning to attack the territory of the ZNPP. After that, they will announce the leakage of the radioactive substances. They obviously will blame Ukraine.
“Russians sabotaged today’s planned rotation of the staff of the IAEA monitoring mission. They aim to provoke the international community and conduct a detailed investigation requiring a ceasefire. russians are going to use this so desirable pause for the regrouping of the occupational personnel and to stop the Ukrainian counteroffensive.”
Enerhodar, a city in southern Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia Region, is home to the largest nuclear power plant in Europe and has been under Russian occupation for months. It has seen intense fighting and bombardment, particularly in the first few months of Putin’s illegal invasion.
Ukrainian officials announced on Mar. 1 that Russian troops had surrounded the city, with Mayor Orlov reporting that residents were experiencing difficulties obtaining food and other essential supplies.
The following day, protestors blocked roads into Enerhodar in an attempt to prevent Russian forces from entering. However, by the evening of Mar. 2, Rafael Grossi, Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency, announced that Russian authorities were in control of territory around the nuclear power plant.
On the night of Mar. 3, a column of 10 Russian armoured vehicles and two tanks approached the power plant, capturing it after two hours of heavy fighting.
Since then, Enerhodar and Zaporizhzhia have experienced relentless Russian strikes, damaging local infrastructure and placing the nuclear power plant under grave risk.
Earlier this month, representatives of the IAEA (International Atomic Emergency Agency) reported that the Russian occupiers are storing military equipment, weapons, and explosives in the turbine compartment of power unit No. 4 of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant.
The Inspectorate stressed that such actions are highly detrimental to the nuclear and radiation safety of the nuclear installations on the Zaporizhzhia NPP’s industrial site, and endanger both the nuclear power plant’s personnel and the residents of nearby towns and villages.
This isn’t the first time that the Russians have been caught suspiciously planting and storing explosives at the nuclear power plant.
At the end of July 2022, it was reported that Russian troops had placed heavy military equipment with ammunition, as well as weapons and explosives, in the engine room of power unit No. 1 of the site. And in early August 2022, it emerged that military equipment was also being stored in the engine room of power unit No. 2.
The warning of a planned ‘staged attack’ to leak radiation across Ukraine comes as breaking news. We will provide an update in due course. You can also follow our Chief Editor, who is currently reporting live from Ukraine and will be tweeting updates throughout the night, by clicking on the tweet below:
🚨BREAKING: Worrying announcement from Ukraine's official MoD Intelligence who claim they've discovered the Russians are planning a "massive provocation" at the Zaporizhzhia NPP to leak radiation across Ukraine.https://t.co/nvS4KCm2eK 1/2. #UkraineRussiaWar️
— Jay Beecher (@Jay_Beecher) May 26, 2023