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Russian forces shelling from Ukrainian nuclear plant: report

Russian forces shelling from Ukrainian nuclear plant report


Russian forces are shelling towns in southern Ukraine from a position inside Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, according to a report Monday.

Russian artillery firing from within the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant on the Dnipro River doesn’t fear reprisal, Ukrainian officials say, because the collateral damage of a Ukrainian strike could be catastrophic, the New York Times reported.

“They are hiding there so they cannot be hit,” said Oleksandr Sayuk, the mayor of Nikopol – -a Ukrainian town across the river from the plant, told the newspaper.

“Why else would they be at the electrical station? To use such an object as a shield is very dangerous.”

The power plant — some 75 miles downriver from the Ukrainian-controlled city of the same name — contains six nuclear reactors, among which the Russians have built a small outpost after seizing control in early March.

As of July, the garrison included at least one BM-30 Smerch multiple rocket launcher and several older BM-21 Grad rocket systems, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.

Ukraine’s military intelligence agency announced last month that it had used a suicide drone to attack Russian positions at the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant.
Defence Inteligence of Ukraine

The Russian troops have reportedly laid land mines and dug trenches to protect their radioactive redoubt.

Elsewhere in the country, Ukrainian forces have used Western counter-battery radar systems and long-range precision rocket launchers to pick off the Russian artillery units that have pounded Ukrainian cities and military positions since the start of the war.

At the power plant, however, no artillery piece is precise enough to warrant the risk of firing on a nuclear reactor.

Six power units generate 40-42 billion kWh of electricity making the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant the largest nuclear power plant not only in Ukraine, but also in Europe, Enerhodar, Zaporizhzhia Region, southeastern Ukraine, July 9, 2019.
The power plant contains six nuclear reactors, among which the Russians have built a small outpost after seizing control in early March.
Future Publishing via Getty Images

Ukraine’s military intelligence agency announced last month that it had used a suicide drone to attack Russian positions at the plant, killing three and injuring 12. The agency claimed to have destroyed one rocket launcher in the attack, and to have started a fire that damaged a number of Russian tents at the site.

Dmytro Orlov, the mayor-in-exile of Enerhodar — the town where the facility is located — is a former engineer at the plant. He told the New York Times Monday that only a direct hit to the reactors would penetrate the concrete containment vessels that measure a yard thick.

But such a hit could be catastrophic, sending the plant into meltdown or risking an explosion that would send radioactive fallout hundreds of miles.

Men remove the rubble at a house ruined as a result of Russian shelling, Nikopol, Dnipropetrovsk Region, central Ukraine.
Men remove the rubble at a house ruined as a result of Russian shelling, Nikopol, Dnipropetrovsk Region, central Ukraine.
Future Publishing via Getty Images

Orlov also said there was a risk an errant Ukrainian shell could hit the facility’s spent fuel storage, which would spread the highly-radioactive material in a more contained area, akin to a dirty bomb.

The International Atomic Energy Agency has been lobbying Russia for access to the plant since shortly after the takeover — so far unsuccessfully.

Last month, on the same day Ukrainian intelligence announced their drone strike on Russian forces hiding in the plant, the IAEA issued a statement of concern over the “increasingly alarming situation” at the facility.

“It is extremely important that no action is taken that could in any way jeopardize the safety of this plant, which is also Europe’s largest. During a conflict of this nature, a nuclear facility can be damaged unintentionally. It must be avoided at all costs,” the agency said.   



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