Ukraine: Expert explains impact of nuclear plant seize by Russia
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Russia has now been at war with its ex-Soviet neighbour Ukraine for more than a week following orders from the country’s President, Vladimir Putin, to launch a full-scale invasion. Military forces from the Kremlin have heavily bombarded strategic cities in recent days, with a nuclear plant in the southeast of Ukraine becoming the latest target overnight on Thursday.
Aerial strikes launched by Russia hit the nuclear power plant in Zaporizhzhia – a city located on the Dnieper River – causing a fire to break out.
The blaze lasted for about four hours before Ukraine responders managed to extinguish it.
Ukraine’s State Emergency Services said there were no victims from the fire, which didn’t affect the reactor sites but a nearby five-storey training site.
The attack triggered automatic condemnation from western leaders, including UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
A statement issued by Downing Street said: “The Prime Minister spoke to Ukrainian President Zelensky in the early hours of this morning about the gravely concerning situation at Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station.
“Both leaders agreed that Russia must immediately cease its attack on the power station and allow unfettered access for emergency services to the plant.
“The Prime Minister said the reckless actions of President Putin could now directly threaten the safety of all of Europe.
“He said the UK would do everything it could to ensure the situation did not deteriorate further.
“The Prime Minister said he would be seeking an emergency UN Security Council meeting in the coming hours, and that the UK would raise this issue immediately with Russia and close partners.
“Both leaders agreed a ceasefire was crucial.”
Mr Johnson added in a tweet on his official Twitter account that he had just spoken with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky about the “gravely concerning situation at Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station”.
He said: “Russia must immediately cease its attack on the power station and allow unfettered access for emergency services to the plant.”
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US President Joe Biden also spoke with Mr Zelensky on Friday morning, with the two leaders urging Russia to cease its military activities in the region.
In a video posted on Twitter, following the attack, Mr Zelensky urged “immediate action” from the world.
He accused Russians of deliberately shooting at the Zaporizhzhia plant’s six reactors using tanks equipped with thermal imaging.
Invoking the “global catastrophe” at Chernobyl in 1986, he warned the consequences of a meltdown at Zaporizhzhia would be far worse.
He said: “Europeans, wake up please. Tell your politicians that Russian forces are shooting at the nuclear plant in Ukraine.”
Ukrainian authorities have now confirmed that Russian forces have seized control of the plant.
Last week Russia captured the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, after launching an attack on the facility.
The development escalated fears in the West of a potential nuclear disaster, with Ukraine labelling it as a “totally pointless attack”.
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