The U.N. Chief Antonio Guterres has called for an end to military activity around Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Complex after the plant was hit five times.
Moscow and Kyiv again blamed each other for the renewed shelling that hit the plant’s administration office and fire station today.
This was serious enough that the U.N. Security Council met to discuss the situation. Russia seized Europe’s largest nuclear power plant in March after invading Ukraine on February 24.
The plant is still run by its Ukrainian technicians. Ukraine’s Energoatom said that the area was struck multiple times today, including the site where radioactive materials are stored.
Russia’s Defense Ministry said in a statement the Ukrainian shelling had partly damaged a thermal power plant and splashed pools that form part of the reactors’ cooling systems.
Mr. Guterres urged the withdrawal of military personnel and equipment and for no more forces or equipment to be deployed. He called for Russia and Ukraine not to target the facilities or the surrounding area. “The facility must not be used as part of any military operation,” Mr. Guterres said in a statement. “Instead, urgent agreement is needed at a technical level on a safe perimeter of demilitarization to ensure the safety of the area.”
The United States backed the call for a demilitarized zone around the plant, Bonnie Jenkins, the U.S. under-secretary for arms control and international security told the U.N. Security Council today. She said, a visit by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) “cannot wait any longer.”
Ukraine’s President Zelenskyy accused Russia of using the nuclear power plant “to threaten the entire world.
“Only a full withdrawal of the Russians from the territory of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Station and the restoration of full Ukrainian control of the situation around the station can guarantee a resumption of nuclear security for all of Europe.”
IAEA chief Rafael Grossi addressed the U.N. Security Council today at the request of Russia. Mr. Grossi said he is ready to lead an IAEA mission to Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Station as soon as possible.
Russia and Ukraine will need to cooperate.
“We believe it is justified for IAEA representatives to go to the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant as quickly as possible, even before the end of August,” said Russia’s U.N. ambassador Vassily Nebenzia. He also said that the world was being pushed “to the brink of nuclear catastrophe comparable in scale to Chernobyl.”
U.N. spokesperson Stephanie Dujarric has said the U.N. has committed to doing everything possible to getting the IAEA technicians to Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant.
It is easy to make statements about Chernobyl and Nuclear Weapons and it is very dangerous to play chicken with Ukraine using an active Nuclear Power Plant.
If either country accidentally or with forethought strikes the actual Power Plant and damages it, the results would be catastrophic and widespread, as the potential fallout could impact any part of Europe. Where such devastation might occur is dependent only upon the prevailing weather patterns, since the Ukrainian Power Plant sits pretty much in the center of Europe. It also sits beside the Dnieper River, which could be contaminated should a reactor leak occur, carrying potentially deadly irradiated water to other parts of Ukraine and Europe, running as it does to the Black Sea. The potential for deaths directly due to a reactor core meltdown is high, but the possibility of heavily radioactive water travelling all the way to the Black Sea, and thereby affecting crops, livestock and people for a huge swath of Europe would be even more devastating.
This is a game of Russian Roulette with the lives of thousands, if not millions. This is a game you can only play once, and no one can win.