NewsWhy Russia's attacks on this place in Ukraine are...

Why Russia's attacks on this place in Ukraine are worrying the whole world

Russia said on Thursday it may shut down Europe’s largest nuclear power plant after it was bombed at the front in Ukraine, a move kyiv said would increase the risk of a nuclear catastrophe in that country.

Moscow has also rejected international calls to create a demilitarized zone around the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant, which it seized early in the war and is still operated by Ukrainian engineers under Russian occupation.

This is what we know about this nuclear plant, the largest in Europe.

Location and construction

The nuclear power plant is located in central Ukraine, in Enerhodar, near the city of Zaporizhia, on the banks of the Kakhovka reservoir on the Dnieper River, about 150 kilometers from the Crimean peninsula.

It has six reactors. The first five were successfully brought online between 1985 and 1989, and the sixth was added in 1995. The plant generates about half of the country’s nuclear power and more than a fifth of the total power generated in Ukraine.

Russian military occupation

Russia took the plant on March 4, a few days after the start of the invasion of Ukraine, after an attack that caused a fire without consequences in radioactivity levels, but that paralyzed the world in fear of a new atomic catastrophe.

Russian projectiles hit the facilities of the Zaporizhia nuclear plant in the early hours of that day, unleashing a fire in a building and a laboratory.

After a few hours of alarm, in which the Ukrainian president Volodimir Zelenski warned of a possible disaster “ten times bigger than Chernobyl”, in reference to the catastrophic nuclear accident of 1986 in that country, the relief services were able to extinguish the flames, according to the kyiv authorities.

Is there a risk of nuclear disaster?

The Ukrainian president, Volodímir Zelenski, who discussed the situation at the plant with the UN Secretary General, António Guterres, who was visiting Lviv, asked the United Nations to guarantee its demilitarization and protection.

“This deliberate terror by the aggressor can have catastrophic consequences for the whole world,” Zelensky wrote on the Telegram messaging app, accusing Russia of “nuclear blackmail” at the plant.

“This deliberate terror by the aggressor can have catastrophic consequences for the whole world,” Zelensky wrote on the Telegram messaging app, accusing Russia of “nuclear blackmail” at the plant.

Ukraine accuses Russia of using the plant as a shield for its forces to launch attacks through the reservoir on Ukrainian-controlled cities, something Moscow denies.

Foreign countries and the United Nations have asked Moscow to allow the entry of international inspectors. Reuters could not independently confirm the military situation at the scene or responsibility for the attack on the plant.

The Ukrainian authorities have accused Russia of planning the closure of the plant to disconnect it from the Ukrainian electricity grid and switch it to the Russian one, thus stealing its production.

Disconnecting the complex’s generators from the Ukrainian power system would prevent them from being used to keep nuclear fuel cold in the event of a power outage at the plant, he said.

Shutting down a nuclear power plant is a complicated operation that requires stopping the nuclear chain reactions and protecting the fuel from heating up and causing a meltdown.

“If Russia takes steps to force the exit (of the plant) from the Ukrainian electricity system, that could threaten the operational safety of the station, as well as escalate the energy crisis in Ukraine in the winter,” Mark Hibbs told Reuters. , a senior fellow with the Nuclear Policy Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, in an email.

NATO calls for ‘urgent inspection’ in Zaporizhia

The North Atlantic Organization (NATO) considers it “urgent” that the UN nuclear watchdog carry out an inspection of the Ukrainian plant in Zaporizhia, which is under Russian military control, the secretary general of the Atlantic Alliance said on Wednesday. Jens Stoltenberg.

“It is urgent to authorize an inspection by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and to guarantee the withdrawal of all Russian forces” from the site, Stoltenberg told a news conference in Brussels.

The Russian occupation of the Zaporiya plant (in southern Ukraine) “poses a serious threat to the facilities [and] raises the risk of a nuclear accident or incident,” he warned.

With information from AFP and Reuters

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