Zelensky accuses Russia of ‘nuclear terrorism’ as troops open fire at Zaporizhia nuclear power plant


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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Thursday accused Russia of “nuclear terrorism” as fighting continued over the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant in southeastern Ukraine.

Speaking at an international defense conference in Denmark, Zelensky warned that Russia could cause the “biggest radiation accident in history” at the Zaporizhia nuclear plant, the largest nuclear plant in continental Europe and the largest in the world.

“In terms of actual consequences, it could be more catastrophic than Chernobyl,” he said.

UN tries to gain access to Ukrainian nuclear plant after ‘suicide’ shelling

FILE – Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky speaks during a news conference in Kyiv, Ukraine, July 28, 2022. Ukrainian officials accused Russian forces of planting explosives at the Zaporizhia nuclear plant in preparation for an expected Ukrainian counteroffensive in the region.
(AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky, File)

Adding the fallout from its damage or destruction would be “equivalent to the use of nuclear weapons by Russia, but without a nuclear strike.”

Zelenskyy’s comments followed days of international concern after the plant came under attack over the weekend as shelling fell around the site.

Both Russia and Ukraine have accused each other.

Leaders of the G7 have called on Russia to hand over the nuclear plant – which has already damaged critical parts of its complex – back to Ukraine.

The plant’s communication lines, radiation monitoring sensors, nitrogen-oxygen center, hydrogen pipelines and other parts of the plant’s infrastructure have already been damaged, Zelensky said.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres expressed his “serious” concern over the ongoing fighting in the region and called on both sides to “exercise common sense and reason” to stop all military activity around the plant and avoid “catastrophic consequences”.

“Unfortunately, instead of escalating, further deeply alarming incidents have been reported over the past several days that could lead to catastrophe if they continue,” he said in a statement.

Ukraine has accused Russia of using the plant as a “nuclear shield” and has posted around 500 Russian soldiers at the site, the BBC reported.

Six power units produce 40-42 billion kWh of electricity Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant not only in Ukraine but also in Europe, Enerhodar, Zaporizhzhia region, southeast Ukraine, July 9, 2019. Ukrinform.

Six power units produce 40-42 billion kWh of electricity Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant not only in Ukraine but also in Europe, Enerhodar, Zaporizhzhia region, southeast Ukraine, July 9, 2019. Ukrinform.
(Photo credit should read Dmytro Smolyenko/Future Publishing via Getty Images)

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Kyiv has argued that Moscow has turned the nuclear plant into a military base, launching missile strikes from a vulnerable position knowing that Ukraine would be reluctant to fire back in the direction of the nuclear plant.

“Russia has become a terrorist state and is actually holding nuclear plants hostage and blackmailing everyone with possible disasters,” Zelensky said Thursday. “None of us can stop the radioactive air, but together we can stop the terrorist state.

“The sooner we stop Russia, the sooner Europe and the world can be safe again,” he said.

A Russian soldier guards the area outside the second reactor of the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant in Energodar on May 1, 2022.

A Russian soldier guards the area outside the second reactor of the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant in Energodar on May 1, 2022.
(Photo by Andrey Borodulin/AFP via Getty Images)

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Zelensky called for increased sanctions on Russia and its nuclear program.

The UN has called on both sides to immediately grant access to the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant to the International Atomic Energy Agency.



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