Russia-Ukraine crisis | World

Russia says Ukraine planning 'provocation' at nuclear plant; Kyiv denies

The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, situated in the Russian-controlled area of Enerhodar, seen from Nikopol. File

The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, situated in the Russian-controlled area of Enerhodar, seen from Nikopol. File | Photo Credit: AFP

Russia said on Thursday there was a risk of a man-made disaster at Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant and accused Kyiv and the West of planning "provocation" there on Friday during a visit to Ukraine by U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

A Ukrainian official dismissed what he depicted as a cynical assertion by Moscow and said Russian forces should leave the plant they captured soon after invading Ukraine nearly six months ago, demine it and remove any munitions stored there.

The Zaporizhzhia nuclear reactor complex (ZNPP), the largest in Europe, has come under repeated shelling, with both Moscow and Kyiv trading blame.

Russia says Ukrainian forces are recklessly firing at the plant, but Ukraine says Russia is deliberately using the reactor complex as a base to launch attacks against its population.

Russia's foreign ministry said at a news briefing that a proposal from Guterres to demilitarise the area around the plant was "unacceptable".

Russian defence ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov told reporters Moscow was taking measures to ensure safety at the complex and denied it had deployed heavy weapons in and around the plant.

However, the ministry said a shutdown of the plant might be attempted if shelling continued.

Yevgeny Balitsky, head of the Russian-installed administration in Zaporizhzhia region, said earlier there was a risk that shelling could damage the cooling system of the reactor complex and was quoted as saying the plant was operating with only one unit.

It is not clear how the plant would be shut down, but the ministry said two of the plant's six units may be put into "cold reserve". The plant accounts for one-fifth of Ukraine's annual electricity production.

Ukrainian state nuclear energy company Energoatom said shutting down the plant would increase the risk of "a radiation disaster at the largest nuclear power plant in Europe". Disconnecting the complex's generators from Ukraine's power system would prevent them being used to keep nuclear fuel cool, in the event of a power outage at the plant, it said on the Telegram messaging app.


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Printable version | Aug 18, 2022 6:48:27 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/russia-says-ukraine-planning-provocation-at-nuclear-plant-kyiv-denies/article65783690.ece