War in Ukraine: Russia takes control of Zaporizhia, Europe’s largest nuclear power plant | International


The Russian Army has taken control of the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant, the largest in Europe and located in southeastern Ukraine, according to local Ukrainian authorities on the ninth day of the military offensive. After an early morning of heavy clashes between Russian and Ukrainian troops in the nearby town of Energodar and on the road leading to the nuclear power plant, Russian bombing has caused a fire in three of the five floors of the facility. Around 5:20 in the morning, firefighters managed to put out the fire, which has not caused fatalities, according to the State Emergency Service of Ukraine.

“They have bombed everything they could,” said the plant’s spokesman, Andrei Tuz, to the BBC. Before the Kremlin troops took over the plant, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), an agency that belongs to the UN, has warned of the “serious danger” that the reactor would have been affected by the flames, although it has moved that the Ukrainians have verified that the essential equipment of the complex has not been damaged.

“These actions by Putin now directly threaten the security of all of Europe,” British Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned this morning in a statement after a telephone call with the president of Ukraine, Volodímir Zelensky, after warning that the Russian attack to the plant constitutes a “worrying and serious situation”. Zaporizhia has six reactors and has a capacity of 5,700 megawatts —Almaraz, the largest in Spain, is 1,100 megawatts—. After France and Slovakia, Ukraine is the country in the world that most relies on nuclear energy to meet its electricity demand. In 2020, more than 50% of its electricity came from the 15 reactors it has in different plants in the country.

In recent days, international organizations had already shown their concern about the risk of triggering a radioactive accident with “catastrophic consequences”. The IAEA warned in a recent report of the risk that facilities with radioactive material may suffer damage during the conflict, with “potentially serious consequences for human health and the environment.”

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The general director of the organization, the Argentine Rafael Mariano Grossi, made this Sunday an “urgent and energetic appeal to all parties to refrain from any military or other action that could threaten the security of these facilities.” “It is extremely important that nuclear power plants are not put at risk in any way.”

Zelenski has accused the Kremlin of “nuclear terrorism” and of wanting to “repeat Chernobyl”, the most serious nuclear accident in history that occurred in Ukraine in 1986. “We alert everyone to the fact that no other country, except Russia, has fired against nuclear power plants”, said the Ukrainian president in a video published on his social networks and stressed that it is “the first time in our history and in the history of humanity” that a plant of this type is attacked . As a result of the incident, the president has had a telephone conversation with his United States counterpart, Joe Biden. The US Executive has demanded this morning to Moscow “to cease its military activities in the area.”

The siege on Mariupol tightens

Russian troops continue their offensive in several of Ukraine’s main cities such as Kiev, Kharkov (northeast of the country) and Mariupol (southeast), after nine days of escalation. This last municipality, in the south of the country, is enduring the siege of Russian troops, although British intelligence has assured this Friday in a statement that the siege of the city of almost half a million inhabitants is increasingly narrow. “Major infrastructure has been bombed by Russian troops,” the UK Ministry of Defense reported.

Since last Tuesday, this valuable geostrategic location in the Sea of ​​Azov has been besieged by Putin’s troops. “We have no light, no water, no heating,” warned the city’s mayor, Bodin Boichenko, who went on to say that they were destroying its population. After the fall of Kherson, also in southern Ukraine, the Kremlin wants to capture this enclave to create a corridor from the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea – an area that Moscow illegally annexed in 2014 – to Donbas.

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