Russian soldiers forcing Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant employees to work at gunpoint

Russian soldiers forcing Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant employees to work at gunpoint

The largest nuclear power plant in Europe, the Zaporizhzhia plant in southern Ukraine, was bombarded by Russian artillery Friday morning and its workers are now being forced to operate the plant "at gunpoint," according to a report from The Daily Beast.

This story was authored by Tim Evans.

Russian shells damaged a training facility at the plant overnight and soldiers now are in control of the plant. Petro Kotin, the head of the state-owned nuclear power firm Energoatom, gave more details about the attack in a Telegram post Friday morning. He said Russian troops “entered the territory of the nuclear power plant, took control of the personnel and management of the nuclear power plant.” He added: “The station management works at invaders’ gunpoint.”

Ukrainian firefighters said they were prevented from accessing the site initially, before they were able to douse a blaze at a training facility on the site.

The International Atomic Energy Agency said that there was “no change reported in radiation levels at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant site."

United States energy secretary Jennifer Granholm said the reactors "are protected by robust containment structures and reactors are being safely shut down."

Russia has already captured the defunct Chernobyl plant, 100km north of Kyiv. The Zaporizhzhia plant is a different and safer type than Chernobyl.

Tony Irwin, an honorary associate professor at the Australian National University, said the pressurized water reactors were “a lot safer” than the reactors at Chernobyl. But, he added, “Obviously, it’s not a good idea if you start shooting massive missiles at reactors.

"The attack killed three Ukrainian soldiers, according to Kyiv's nuclear operator Energoatom, and was slammed in Washington, London and other Western capitals as utterly irresponsible.

"We survived a night that could have stopped the story, the history of Ukraine, the history of Europe," Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelensky said.

An explosion at Zaporizhzhia would have equalled "six Chernobyls", he said, referring to the plant in Ukraine that was the site of the world's worst nuclear disaster in 1986.

"Russian tank commanders knew what they were firing at," Zelensky alleged, adding: "The terrorist state now resorted to nuclear terror."

With additional reporting via AFP

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