A “stop to this madness” has been demanded by the head of the United Nations’ nuclear inspector, who denounced what he called targeted strikes on the Ukrainian nuclear plant that is under Russian occupation.
Over the weekend, the Zaporizhia area of Ukraine, home to the biggest nuclear power plant in Europe, was shaken by powerful explosions caused by shelling.
President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy stated in his evening address on Sunday that a violent ground war was taking place in eastern Donetsk province and that a strong barrage of Russian military attacks—nearly 400 on Sunday alone—had also struck Ukraine’s eastern territories.
The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Rafael Grossi, released a report on Sunday saying, “The news from our team yesterday and this morning is extremely disturbing.”
“Explosions occurred at the site of this major nuclear power plant, which is completely unacceptable.
“Whoever is behind this, it must stop immediately,” he continued.
“As I have said many times before, you’re playing with fire!”
IAEA scientists at the Zaporizhzhia plant suddenly heard more than a dozen booms in a short amount of time on Sunday morning and were able to see some explosions from their windows as a result of increased shelling near and at the site, the agency said.
The IAEA announced that the bombardment had halted later in the day and that its specialists would examine the situation on Monday.
“There has been damage to parts of the site, but no radiation release or loss of power,” it claimed.
Grossi claimed in an interview with a French channel that it was obvious the raids on the company were not a mistake.
“The people who are doing this know where they are hitting. It is absolutely deliberate, targeted.”
The likelihood of a nuclear disaster at the facility, which Russia occupied quickly after entering Ukraine on February 24, has increased as a result of strikes in and around Zaporizhzhia.
As temperatures drop and snow starts to fall in Kyiv and other cities, Russia has begun bombing Ukraine’s power system and other crucial civilian buildings from the air, resulting in massive blackouts and depriving millions of Ukrainians of heat, power, and water.
The recent shelling of Zaporizhzhia was attributed to Russian forces by Ukraine’s state nuclear power company, Energoatom, who also claimed that the equipment targeted was consistent with the Kremlin’s intention to “damage or destroy as much of Ukraine’s energy infrastructure as possible” as winter approaches.
Moscow, meanwhile, has attributed the damage to Ukrainian soldiers.
Igor Konashenkov, a spokesman for the Russian defence ministry, claimed that two shells fired by the Ukrainian military on Sunday struck close to the power cables that the plant relies on to generate electricity.
The country’s electricity infrastructure is still being repaired, according to Ukraine, but on Sunday night “stabilization blackouts” will be needed in 15 districts, including the capital. The nation’s power company announced that every region would experience planned disruptions on Monday.
In his nightly presentation, Zelenskyy stated that “the restoration of networks and technical supply capabilities, the de-mining of power transmission lines, repairs — everything goes on round the clock.”
In clashes in the south, Ukrainian forces were maintaining their position, according to Zelenskyy, while making small improvements in the eastern Luhansk region.
This month, Russia evacuated some of its troops from the southern city of Kherson and relocated others to fortify positions in the east.
“The fiercest battles, as before, are in the Donetsk region. Although there were fewer attacks today due to worsening weather, the amount of Russian shelling unfortunately remains extremely high,” Zelenskyy remarked.
The president reiterated in the speech Kyiv’s demands for peace, such as the security of food and energy supplies, the release of all detainees, and the evacuation of Russian forces from all Ukrainian land.