Russian general threatens to bomb nuclear power plant

Russian general threatens to bomb nuclear power plant
Image via @menefr1/Twitter.
World

One of Russia's top military commanders has threatened to blow up the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant in Enerhodar, Ukraine after heavy shelling over the weekend sparked fears of a potential radioactive catastrophe. The facility was captured by Russian forces on March 3rd, nine days after President Vladimir Putin launched his unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.

According to a Telegram post by Energoatam, a Ukrainian state nuclear agency, Major General Valery Vasiliev of Russia's Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical Protection Troops told his battalions that "there will be either Russian land or a scorched desert" in the region encompassing Europe's largest atomic energy station.

Energoatam wrote that Vasiliev had added that "as you know, we mined all the important objects of the Zaporozhye nuclear plant. And we do not hide this from the enemy. We warned them. The enemy knows that the station will be either Russian or nobody's. We are ready for the consequences of this step. And you, the liberating warriors, must understand that we do not have a second way. And if there is the most severe order - we must fulfill it with honor!"

READ MORE: Greenpeace warns of twin nuclear quandaries in Ukraine | Opinion

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy expressed his concerns over the deteriorating situation on Sunday.

“God forbid something irreparable will happen—and no one will stop the wind that will spread the radioactive contamination," Zelenskyy said. "Russian nuclear terror requires a stronger response from the international community—sanctions on the Russian nuclear industry and nuclear fuel.”

Energoatom Chairman Petro Kotin highlighted the dangers posed by bombing nuclear reactors and waste storage facilities

"If they had hit the containers with the processed fuel, it would be a radiation accident," Kotin stated on Ukrainian state television. "It will be a local accident on the territory of the plant and nearby territory" if one container were hit. "If it's two (or) three containers -- the affected area will increase."

READ MORE: Ukraine is 'ready and able' to defeat Russia: Ukrainian foreign minister

Kotin also explained the risks that accompany the destruction of Zaporizhzhia's power and communications infrastructure.

"As of now, Zaporizhzhia NPP (nuclear power plant) is only connected to the Ukrainian energy system with just one communication line. If all the lines are damaged, the plant will transfer to the so-called 'black-out' mode, meaning become completely de-energized. And this situation will be very dangerous for keeping fuel in nuclear reactors in a safe condition," Kotin said as reported by CNN.

On Monday, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres condemned the attacks on and around Zaporizhzhia.

"Any attack on nuclear power plants is a suicidal thing," Guterres told reporters in Tokyo, Japan while commemorating the 77th anniversary of the annihilation of Hiroshima. "I hope that these attacks will end," he continued, adding that the UN supports the International Atomic Energy Agency "in all their efforts in relation to create the conditions of stabilization of the plant."

Meanwhile, officials in Ukraine and Russia have exchanged blame for the bombardment.

"Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said the shelling of the plant by 'Ukrainian armed forces' was 'fraught with catastrophic consequences' for Europe," The Daily Beast noted on Monday. "But Ukrainian media reports suggested that Russian troops were themselves threatening to blow up the plant rather than let it fall out of their control. Vasiliev reportedly announced that his soldiers occupying the site had 'mined all important objects' at the plant, and said that Russian fighters must be ready to 'fulfill an important order...You must understand that we have no other way. If there is the toughest order, we must fulfill it with honor.'"

READ MORE: Russian propagandists whine that 'the way we elected' Donald Trump is impossible in Great Britain

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