Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky accused Russia on Friday of unleashing ‘nuclear terror’ after his forces attacked Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, claiming the Russian leader wanted to repeat the Chernobyl disaster – considered the worst nuclear disaster in history.
‘You know the word Chernobyl,’ he said in a video posted on Friday morning, calling on Russia to stop its attack on a nuclear power plant 350 miles south of Kyiv.
‘No country other than Russia has ever fired on nuclear power units.
‘This is the first time in our history. In the history of mankind.
‘The terrorist state now resorted to nuclear terror,’ he said in the video message.
Zelensky said: ‘Europe needs to wake up. The biggest nuclear power plant in Europe is on fire right now.
‘Russian tanks are shooting at the nuclear blocks. These are tanks equipped with thermal imagers, so they know what they are aiming at.’
Europe’s largest nuclear plant was on fire in the early hours of Friday morning after coming under attack by Russian troops – a fire that was put out by dawn, but that experts said still posed dangerous challenges.
Ukrainian State Emergency Service confirmed on Friday that the blaze at the facility 350 miles south of Kyiv was out shortly before daybreak.
‘At 06:20 the fire at the Zaporizhzhia NPP training building in Enerhodar was extinguished. There are no dead or injured,’ the statement said.
Several hours earlier Andriy Tuz, a spokesperson for the Zaporizhzhia plant, said in a video posted on Telegram that one of the six reactors was on fire, but the reactor was not in use.
‘There is a real threat of nuclear danger in the biggest atomic energy station in Europe,’ he said.
He told Ukrainian television that shells were falling directly on the Zaporizhzhia plant, but the reactor on fire was under renovation and not operating, AP reported.
He said there is nuclear fuel inside, however.
Firefighters could not get near the fire because they are being shot at, Tuz said.
A live feed from the station showed a line of military vehicles firing at buildings at the nuclear plant, causing flames to break out at the site – sparking fears of a radiation disaster in the nation currently under invasion by Russian forces.
Nuclear experts were cautioning about overstating the danger, emphasizing that Chernobyl was a very different situation and accusing the country’s foreign minister of sparking unnecessary alarm by invoking the specter of an explosion ten times worse than the 1986 disaster.
The International Atomic Energy Agency said, around the time the fire was extinguished at dawn, that the country’s nuclear officials said the fire has not affected ‘essential’ equipment.
Rafael Grossi, the IAEA director, tweeted in the early hours of Friday that he was ‘deeply concerned’ by the situation, and called for an urgent end to the fighting around the plant.
The IAEA said on Friday it was putting its Incident and Emergency Centre ‘in full 24/7 response mode due to serious situation.’
The IAEA said plant personnel were ‘taking mitigatory actions’.
In response to the attack, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky accused Russia of ‘nuclear terror’ while British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will seek an emergency UN Security Council meeting in the coming hours, a Downing Street spokeswoman said.
‘The UK would raise this issue immediately with Russia,’ they added.
Johnson tweeted: ‘I’ve just spoken to President Zelensky about the gravely concerning situation at Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station.
‘Russia must immediately cease its attack on the power station and allow unfettered access for emergency services to the plant.’
As the chaotic scenes unfolded, a Kyiv official told The Associated Press elevated levels of radiation had been detected near the site of the plant. A plant spokesman later said they remained at normal levels, and Ukraine’s 24 TV channel quoted the plant’s director as saying that ‘radiation security’ had been secured.
The International Atomic Energy Agency on Thursday night said they were deeply concerned – but emphasized that no increase in radiation levels had been reported.
‘#Ukraine regulator tells IAEA there has been no change reported in #radiation levels at the #Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant site,’ they tweeted.
Meanwhile, Moscow’s isolation deepened on Friday, with Airbnb becoming the latest company to pull out of the country – following Ikea, BP, Shell, HSBC, Apple and Nike.
‘Airbnb is suspending all operations in Russia and Belarus,’ tweeted the CEO, Brian Chesky.
Source : www.dailymail.co.uk