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LONDON (Reuters) – Russia and Ukraine on Friday shelled Europe’s largest nuclear power plant in Zaporizhia, accusing each other of laying the groundwork for a potential disaster.
The Russian Defense Ministry said it was just luck that a radiation accident was avoided after the shelling.
But Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky held Moscow responsible, accusing it of committing a “blatant and impudent crime, an act of terrorism.”
In a late-night speech, he called for sanctions against the entire Russian nuclear industry.
“This is purely a security issue. Certainly those who pose a nuclear threat to other countries cannot safely use nuclear technology,” he said.
The Russian defense ministry said one unit’s power generation capacity was reduced and power supply to another unit was cut off. In addition, the nearby city of Enerjodar had problems with power and water supplies.
“Fortunately, Ukrainian artillery shells did not hit nearby oil and fuel facilities and an oxygen plant, thus avoiding the possibility of a larger fire or radiation accident,” the ministry said in a statement.
Enerhodar and a nearby nuclear power plant were seized by Russian forces invading in early March and are still near the front lines.
US Secretary of State Antony Brinken on Monday accused Russia of using the power plant as a shield for its own forces, and Ukraine accused Russia of shelling the position from a position near the power plant.
Ukraine’s foreign ministry said on Twitter: “A collision with a working reactor could have the same consequences as the use of an atomic bomb.”
Ukraine’s state-owned nuclear power company, Energoatom, previously said the plant was operating and no radioactive releases had been detected. Two of the six reactors are still in operation.
The Russian-installed government of Enerkhodar said on Friday that power lines at the power plant had been cut by Ukrainian shelling. The facility continues to be operated by Ukrainian technicians.
Reuters was unable to confirm the battlefield report.
Rafael Grossi, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said this week that contacts with the power plant were “fragile” and communications were not working every day. I asked for access to judge.
Reported by Reuters. Written by Kevin Liffey and David Ljunggren. Edited by Sandra Maler and Grant McCool
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