The risk of disaster at Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant occupied by Russian troops is “increasing every day”, the mayor of the city where the facility is located says.
The Zaporizhzhia power plant, Europe’s largest, was seized by Russian soldiers in the opening days of the invasion of Ukraine, and has remained on the front line ever since.
Last week the facility came under fire repeatedly, with Kyiv and Moscow trading blame for the dangerous escalation.
The mayor of the southeastern city of Energodar, where the plant is located, said on Sunday that “the risks are increasing every day”.
“What is happening there is outright nuclear terrorism,” Dmytro Orlov said from the city of Zaporizhzhia, which remains under Ukrainian control. “It can end unpredictably at any moment.”
Kyiv has accused Moscow of basing troops and weapons in the facility, launching attacks and using the atomic plant as a shield from returning fire.
“The situation is hazardous and what causes the most concern is that there is no de-escalation process,” said Orlov.
The International Atomic Energy Agency, which is seeking to inspect the plant, has warned of a nuclear disaster unless the fighting stops. Nuclear experts fear warfare might damage the plant’s spent fuel pools or the reactors.
On Saturday, local Russian-installed official Vladimir Rogov wrote on Telegram that Ukrainian forces were shelling the plant.
“Energodar and the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant are again under fire by [Ukrainian President Volodymyr] Zelenskyy’s militants,” said Rogov.
Missiles fell “in the areas located on the banks of the Dnipro river and in the plant”, he said, without reporting any casualties or damage.
Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak accused Russia of “hitting the part of the nuclear power plant where the energy that powers the south of Ukraine is generated”.
“The goal is to disconnect us from the [plant] and blame the Ukrainian army for this,” Podolyak wrote on Twitter.