Zelenskyy warns Russia may 'commit new evil' at Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant

Kyiv intelligence says explosives planted on the roofs of several units at the station

Russia seized the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant soon after its invasion of Ukraine began. EPA
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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has accused Moscow of plotting an imminent attack on the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, saying the Kremlin may “commit new evil” in its fight to hold on to occupied territory in Ukraine.

Mr Zelenskyy said information from Ukraine's intelligence showed Russia had placed objects “resembling explosives” on the roofs of several units at the plant, the largest nuclear station in Europe.

“Perhaps to simulate an attack on the plant. Perhaps they have some other scenario,” he said of the objects during a nightly address on Tuesday.

“But in any case, the world sees – can't but see – that the only source of danger to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant is Russia and no one else.”

Mr Zelenskyy warned last week of Russian threats to the plant, claiming Moscow was “technically ready” to provoke a blast at the station, which it seized shortly after its invasion of Ukraine last February.

Since then, each side has regularly accused the other of conducting shelling around the plant, raising the risk of a major nuclear disaster.

The president also referenced the Kakhovka dam collapse, which Kyiv blamed on Russia, saying the lack of response to the devastating floods may “incite the Kremlin to commit new evil.”

“It is the responsibility of everyone in the world to stop it, no one can stand aside, as radiation affects everyone.”

He has also spoken to French President Emmanuel Macron over threats to the plant, telling him Moscow was preparing a “dangerous provocation” at the site.

Meanwhile, Russia accused Kyiv of also planning to attack the plant using long-range weapons and drones.

Renat Karchaa, an adviser to the head of Rosenergoatom, which operates Russia's nuclear network, said Ukraine planned to drop ammunition laced with nuclear waste, transported from one of the country's five nuclear stations, on the plant.

“Under cover of darkness overnight on 5th July, the Ukrainian military will try to attack the Zaporizhzhia station using long-range precision equipment and kamikaze attack drones,” Russian news agencies quoted Mr Karchaa as telling Russian television.

The UN's nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, has been trying for more than a year to clinch a deal to ensure the plant is demilitarised and reduce the risks of any nuclear accident.

The agency's director general, Rafael Grossi, has visited the plant three times since the Russian takeover but failed to reach any agreement to keep it safe from shelling.

Updated: July 05, 2023, 5:34 AM