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On August 5, the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant, captured by Russian troops at the beginning of the war, came under fire. Russia blamed Ukraine for the attack, Ukraine blamed Russia. The reports of shelling by the sides are broadly similar – the first one occurred during the day and cut off the power line, the second fell directly on the industrial site of the station and caused more serious damage.
The Ukrainian company Energoatom said that after the shelling, one of the three operating power units was turned off, and as a result of the damage, “there are risks of hydrogen leakage and dispersion of radioactive substances.” “Energoatom” accused Russia in an attempt to destroy the infrastructure of the station and de-energize the south of Ukraine. The company also said that before the shelling, “the representatives of Rosatom hastily left the station.” “They probably knew that an attack was being prepared,” the message said.
The Russian-appointed “new authorities” of Energodar said that the station was on fire as a result of the first shelling. Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation declaredthat because of the shelling “de-energized part of the equipment of power unit No. 3, the generated power of power unit No. 4 was reduced”, and “a larger fire and a possible radiation accident” was avoided “by a lucky chance”.
Ukrainian company “Energoatom” statedthat around 14:30 “three “arrivals” were recorded near the ZNPP industrial site” that damaged the power line, after which it was decided to disconnect one of the power units from the network.
Later “Energoatom” informed about the second shelling, which had already hit the station site. As a result, it was alleged that the “nitrogen-oxygen station and the joint auxiliary building” were seriously damaged and “there are risks of hydrogen leakage and radioactive spraying”; the fire danger in Energoatom was assessed as high.
In turn, the “new authorities” of Energodar appointed by Russia declaredthat the first shelling took place at around 3:00 pm during a shift change and was fired from Ukrainian-controlled territory; it was reported that as a result, power lines were cut and a fire started. They also later reported a second strike, which hit an industrial site.
Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation declaredthat because of the shelling on August 5 at the station, “a flare fire of hydrogen occurred” and “de-energized part of the equipment of the power unit No. 3, the generated power of the power unit No. 4 was reduced”:
Luckily, the Ukrainian shells did not hit the nearby oil and fuel oil facilities and the oxygen station, thus avoiding a larger fire and a possible radiation accident at Europe’s largest nuclear power plant.
Energoatom accused Russia of “actual mining” of two power units of the station. According to message company on August 6, military equipment with weapons and explosives was placed in the machine rooms of these power units. “And this is in addition to mining the ZNPP coastline along the cooling pond and the adjacent shore of the Kakhovka reservoir,” the statement said..
Energoatom also declaredthat “the Russian military at the Zaporozhye NPP occupied all the basements where they hide from shelling”, and “Ukrainian personnel do not yet have access to these premises” and will be vulnerable in case of new shelling.
The Insider on the evening of August 5, he published a video in which, allegedly, Russian military trucks drive into the territory of the nuclear power plant, and then inside the first power unit. The video, according to the publication, was filmed on August 2. The publication stated that the source reported that the Russian military had mined the engine room of the first power unit.
President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky after the shelling called for sanctions against the Russian nuclear industry. He named the shelling of the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant “is not only another argument in favor of recognizing Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism,” but also an argument in favor of “tough sanctions against the entire Russian nuclear industry, from Rosatom to all related companies and individuals.”
Ukraine and the West accuse Russia of using the ZNPP as a shield. On August 1, The New York Times wrote that the Russian Federation was carrying out artillery shelling of Ukrainian territories under the cover of the station. The Ukrainian military, fighting on the opposite bank of the Dnieper, told the publication that in recent weeks, after the HIMARS strikes, Russian artillery has largely subsided – except for units located at the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant. “How can we answer? This is a nuclear facility, ”Colonel of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Sergey Shatalov told The New York Times.
August 5 – even before the Friday shelling – the British Ministry of Defense in the daily summary declaredthat Russia is using the ZNPP area for shelling the opposite bank of the Dnieper and for resting the military, using the “protected status” of the facility. August 6 American Institute for the Study of War suggestedthat Russia “most likely will continue to use its positions around the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant to shell Nikopol, located on the opposite bank of the reservoir” (the city was fired upon including Saturday night).
Russia and the Russian-appointed “authorities of the Zaporozhye region” and Energodar several times in July accused Ukraine of shelling the station. On July 12, it was about the attacks of drones, which were allegedly dropped near the station mines and attacked residential buildings in Energodar, on the 20th – about the strikes of kamikaze drones on the NPP itselfas a result of which asserted11 people were injured.
On July 27, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova saidthat the Ukrainian military shelled the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant “with maniacal persistence.” “It is obvious that the Ukrainian side is deliberately leading the case to a large-scale man-made disaster,” the employee of the diplomatic department reasoned.
IAEA chief Rafael Grossi in early August declaredthat the station is “completely out of control” and its physical security is not respected. “Every principle of nuclear safety has been violated. Things at stake are extremely serious, extremely important and dangerous.” He noted the “paradoxical” situation in which the station is controlled by Russia, but the nuclear operations are carried out by Ukrainian employees, which leads to inevitable friction and, possibly, violence. “Putting it all together, we have a catalog of things that should never happen in a nuclear facility,” he said.
August 6 he declaredthat it was “extremely concerned about the shelling of the largest European nuclear power plant”, and noted that the report on this was the latest in a “long line of increasingly disturbing reports from all sides.” Grossi once again called for an IAEA delegation to be allowed to the facility, which he was ready to lead personally, but stated that this would require the cooperation of both Ukraine and Russia, as well as the support of the UN (Russia declaredthat it is the UN Secretariat that does not coordinate the visit of the IAEA to the station).
“I will not Give Up. I will keep pushing and pushing until the IAEA mission happens. <…> We can’t afford to waste any more time,” Grossi said.
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