Ukraine’s defence ministry has warned that Russia plans to fake a big incident at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, which is under the control of Russian forces. This is done to stop Ukraine’s expected counteroffensive to retake the land Moscow took from it.
The Zaporizhzhia plant is in a part of southern Ukraine that is controlled by Russia. It is the largest nuclear power station in Europe, and the area has been shelled many times, with both sides blaming the other.
Before Ukraine’s expected counteroffensive, there has been more military action around Zaporizhzhia, which has made people worry that a nuclear disaster could happen.
“In the next few hours, Russia is planning a large-scale provocation and a fake accident at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant,” the intelligence office of the Ukrainian defence ministry said on Friday.
“They plan to hit the area around the ZNPP [Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant]. After that, they will say that the radioactive materials have leaked,” the intelligence office said in a statement and then on social media.
The directorate said that if there were reports that radioactive material was leaking from the plant, it would cause a global incident and force an investigation by international officials. During the investigation, all fighting would stop. The intelligence service said that Russia would then use the break in fighting to regroup its troops and get better ready to stop the Ukrainian counteroffensive.
“They will obviously blame Ukraine,” the directorate said, adding that the attack was meant to “provoke the international community” into looking into what happened and stopping the fighting.
Experts say that if there was a report of a radiation leak at the plant, everyone would have to leave right away, which could be very hard to do in a war zone. Experts say that for many people, the fear of being affected by radiation could be more dangerous than the radiation itself.
Last week, witnesses said that Russian military forces were improving their defence positions in and around the nuclear power plant in preparation for Ukraine’s much-anticipated counteroffensive.
Ukraine’s intelligence office said that Russia had stopped the planned rotation of inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), who are based at the plant. This was done to prepare for the planned radioactive incident.
In a tweet, Sergiy Kyslytsya, Ukraine’s deputy to the United Nations in New York, said that the planned event in Zaporizhzhia could happen “in the coming hours.”