Retreating Russians Might Blow Up Nuclear Power Plant, Ukraine Warns

Russian soldier at Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Station
A Russian serviceman patrols the territory of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Station in Energodar on May 1, 2022. Ukraine is warning Russian forces could bomb the site, risking a nuclear meltdown. ANDREY BORODULIN/AFP/GETTY

Russian troops could blow up the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP) in occupied southern Ukraine, potentially triggering a nuclear disaster, according to the Ukrainian armed forces.

The ZNPP, the biggest nuclear power station in Europe, was seized by Russian President Vladimir Putin‘s forces shortly after their invasion of Ukraine began in February.

There have been concerns for some time that the site could see a nuclear meltdown, either as a result of accidental damage during fighting or deliberate sabotage.

On Thursday, Brigadier General Oleksiy Gromov of the Ukrainian military’s General Staff warned the site could be bombed by Russian troops who would then blame any subsequent disaster on Ukraine.

According to the Ukrainian newspaper Ukrainska Pravda, Gromov said an attack is possible due to the Russian army’s “lack of any humanity” and the “pathological lies of all Kremlin politicians and propagandists.”

Gromov continued: “It is most likely that during the retreat, the enemy may resort to a series of terrorist attacks with the detonation of residential areas, the transformation of temporarily occupied territories into scorched earth, with the task of causing critical damage to the infrastructure.

“Taking into account the latest information leaks on the part of the Russian Federation regarding the dirty bomb, it is also not excluded that the occupiers may organize detonations at the ZNPP, with the aim of finally putting it out of order and provoking a local man-made disaster, accusing Ukraine of this.”

Over the past week, senior Russian officials have repeatedly accused Ukraine of planning to use a ‘dirty bomb,’ combining explosives with radioactive nuclear material. The claim has been rejected by Western officials, sparking fears Moscow could be setting the stage for a false flag attack.

Over the weekend, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu phoned his American, British and French counterparts to inform them of the alleged plot.

In response, Washington, London and Paris released a joint statement rejecting “Russia’s transparently false allegations that Ukraine is preparing to use a dirty bomb on its territory.”

The three Western powers added: “The world would see through any attempt to use this allegation as a pretext for escalation. We further reject any pretext for escalation by Russia.”

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Speaking to Newsweek, Dionis Cenusa, a risk analyst at the Eastern European Studies Centre, warned Russia is preparing for a “hybrid operation” against Ukraine.

He said: “Russia is preparing the Western public for a false flag operation. If not, then Russia continues to test the West’s willingness to induce the narrative that peace negotiations could be a way out from chaotic escalation.

“The risks of the Kherson hydroelectric power plant dam explosion, the limited military build-up in Belarus, attacks on critical energy-producing infrastructure of Ukraine, along with the ‘nuclear bomb’ narrative, need to be viewed together rather than separately. Russia is preparing for a kind of hybrid operation against Ukraine.”

The Russian foreign ministry has been contacted for comment.

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