Ukraine: Russian artillery fired at Ukrainian towns across the river from the Russian-occupied power plant overnight, local officials notified on Sunday.
The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant and all other nearby towns and local regions in close proximity are currently under mounting pressure from persistent shelling from both sides, sparking fears of a large-scale nuclear “catastrophe”.
Russia’s defence ministry said on Sunday that there was more Ukraine shelling of the plant over the past 24 hours, just a day after Russia and Ukraine accused each other of targeting Europe’s biggest nuclear plant, prompting international concern.
Regional governor Oleksandr Starukh posted an update on the media platform, Telegram on Sunday that Russian forces hit residential buildings in the region’s main city of Zaporizhzhia, about a two-hour drive from the plant, and the town of Orikhiv further east.
On Saturday, Starukh told Ukrainian television that residents were being taught how to avert the nasty repercussions of a radiation leak using iodine.
Ukraine’s military reported shelling of nine more towns in the area on the opposite side of the Dnipro river from the plant in its daily report. Meanwhile, the RIA agency quoted the Russian defence ministry as saying its air force struck a Motor plant in the region where helicopters were repaired.
The Russian front did not back down, launching their blame. Russian Defence Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov claimed nine shells fired by the Ukrainian artillery in two separate attacks landed on the nuclear plant’s grounds.
He issued a statement saying, “At present, the full-time technical personnel are monitoring the technical condition of the nuclear plant and ensuring its operation. The radiation situation in the area of the nuclear power plant remains normal”.
The United Nations and Kyiv have urged Russian forces to call off any further attacks near the plant to avoid any nuclear outbreak or radiation leak that could affect the lives of millions in Europe.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said that Russian forces had turned the plant into a military base, planning their attacks near and from there, putting entire Europe at risk.
“The Russian military must get out of the plant,” he said on Twitter. The UN nuclear watchdog IAEA is awaiting clearance from the higher-ups for its officials to visit the plant and ensure the safety of nuclear operations.
Even Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky warned on Friday that the situation around Zaporizhzhia remains sensitive and “very risky” a day after it took hours to reconnect two of its reactors to the grid after shelling cut them off.
Russia’s deadly invasion of Ukraine launched on February 24, which President Vladimir Putin has termed a “special military operation”, has offset a barrage of heavy artillery attacks on both sides of the border, risking the lives of thousands, and displacing nearly millions of Ukrainians.
The war could turn deadly, resulting in a nuclear disaster if the volatile situation in and around Zaporizhzhia is not brought under control.