Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called for new sanctions against Russia’s nuclear sector amid concerns about an artillery attack at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine.
Zelenskyy, in a speech on Monday night, warned of a potential “catastrophe” that would threaten other countries in the region.
“If now the world does not show strength and determination to defend a nuclear power plant, this will mean the world has lost,” Zelenskyy said.
Both Russia and Ukraine have accused the other of firing weapons near the facility.
This continues on Monday. An official Russia stationed at Enerhodar said Ukrainian artillery strikes landed near the nuclear power plant, while a Ukrainian official said Russian troops were actually pounding the area in an attempt to make it look like a Ukrainian attack.
Minister of Defense of Ukraine Oleksii Reznikov said to VOA that “it would make no sense for us” to attack the facility “because we now fully understand the dangers of nuclear to humankind. We survived the Chernobyl tragedy in 1986. It is the Ukrainian people who know exactly the Chernobyl tragedy and how many people died later from radiation.”
“That’s why we ask everyone to intervene, and we ask not only the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) but the entire international community to intervene and use their influence so that this does not become the cause of another nuclear disaster in Europe,” Reznikov said.
With concerns about the disaster, said Reznikov, “We believe that Russian units should not be concentrated there and what is happening now is a mere provocation and a kind of game to test the ‘nuclear nerves’ of the world community.”
The United Nations said Secretary General Antonio Guterres discussed the conditions for the safe operation of the nuclear power plant in a telephone conversation with Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu.
Guterres spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters there were logistical and security capabilities in Ukraine to support the visit of IAEA inspectors to the nuclear power plant, if Russia and Ukraine agreed.
Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Russia would do “everything necessary” for the visit of IAEA personnel to the site. Russian state media later quoted Igor Vishnevetsky, deputy head of the ministry’s nuclear proliferation and arms control department, as saying it would be too dangerous for the IAEA mission to travel through Kyiv to visit the nuclear power plant.
The Ukrainian military reported a heavy artillery attack Monday by Russian forces, with at least three Ukrainian civilians killed and 20 others injured. [uh/ab]