Ukraine has accused Vladimir Putin of wanting “another Chernobyl” after Russian forces attacked Europe’s largest nuclear power plant.
The country’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Russia was guilty of “nuclear terrorism” after the plant was set on fire as Boris Johnson announced he would seek a UN emergency meeting.
Dramatic live stream video from the Enerhodar site showed Russian troops charging at one of the buildings.
After the attack, President Zelenskyy condemned the Russians.
“No country but Russia has ever shelled nuclear power plants,” he said in a video message to his embattled nation.
“This is the first time in our history. In the history of mankind. The terror state now resorted to nuclear terror.”
Boris Johnson later spoke to Zelenskyy about the “seriously worrying situation” that was the result of Vladimir Putin’s “reckless actions,” Downing Street said.
“Both leaders agreed that Russia must immediately stop its attack on the power plant and allow emergency services full access to the power plant,” a spokesman said.
“The prime minister said President Putin’s reckless actions could now directly threaten the security of all of Europe.
“He said Britain will do everything it can to ensure the situation does not deteriorate any further.
“The Prime Minister said he would seek an emergency UN Security Council meeting in the coming hours and that Britain would immediately raise the issue with Russia and close partners.
“Both leaders agreed that a ceasefire is vital.”
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Russian armored vehicles first appeared in CCTV footage around 2 a.m. local time.
They lined up on a road that ran through the plant and fired volleys at buildings to their left, which exploded when hit.
Shortly after local mayor Dmytro Orlov confirmed that the plant was on fire.
“As a result of constant enemy shelling of buildings and units of the largest nuclear power plant in Europe, the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant is on fire,” he said.
He added that there had been fierce fighting between local forces and Russian troops and there had been casualties.
After the Russian attack, there were conflicting reports on radiation levels.
A Ukrainian government official said elevated radiation levels had already been detected at the plant – but later officials at the plant said their safety was guaranteed.
It comes as…
In a chilling warning, Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said: “If it explodes, it will be 10 times larger than Chernobyl.
“The Russians must immediately cease fire, allow firefighters, set up a security zone.”
A spokesman for the plant, Andriy Tuz, urged Russian forces to halt their attack as firefighters were unable to fight the blaze because they were being shot at.
“There is a real nuclear hazard at Europe’s largest nuclear power plant,” he said.
The Russians had been advancing on the factory all day, and smoke was rising as the battle raged.
The plant is located in the city of Enerhodar, 53 kilometers south-west of Ukraine’s sixth largest city, Zaporizhia.
Putin’s forces have besieged the site in southern Ukraine, despite valiant efforts by civilians to slow the Russian advance.
Seizing control of the power plant that produces a quarter of Ukraine’s total electricity supply would be a major strategic victory for Russia and a major psychological blow to Ukraine’s armed forces.
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Kremlin troops have reportedly stepped up the fight for the plant after Putin was furious at his army’s slow progress.
An earlier chilling video shows black smoke billowing from the outskirts of the city amid fears some Russian soldiers have already breached the Ukrainian line.
Enerhodar, on the left bank of the Dnieper and the Khakovka reservoir, is a major energy hub, and the nuclear power plant accounts for a quarter of Ukraine’s total electricity generation.
Earlier, a Ukrainian spokesman warned that Putin’s actions “could lead to another nuclear catastrophe that could affect the whole world.”
They added: “The city of Enerhodar, which houses the largest nuclear power plant in Europe, is preparing for a fight with the invaders.
“When shells fall near the nuclear power plant, they damage transformers, turbines and other equipment that ensure the safety of the power plant.
“To prevent this, the entrance to Enerhodar is guarded by the brave station workers and the military.”
Pictures earlier Thursday showed brave Ukrainians erecting a human barricade in front of the nuclear power plant to prevent Russian troops from capturing it.
Hundreds of people lined the road to Enerhodar after Kyiv issued a warning Russia risks creating “a new Chernobyl” if it proceeds with an attack.
Local residents were joined on Wednesday by workers waving Ukrainian flags to barricade the Enerhodar nuclear power plant.
Government official Anton Gerashchenko said Ukrainians would fight to the last man to defend one of the country’s most important energy sources.
“The city, which houses Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, is preparing to fight the invaders,” he said.
“The nuclear power plant is guarded by the heroes of the National Guard of Ukraine.
“They will not give up! There will be a fight. Shells will fire next to the nuclear power plant.
“They will not be able to breach the reactor’s concrete shell, but they will definitely damage transformers, turbines and other equipment necessary for the safety of the nuclear power plant.”
He added eerily, “An accident can happen like at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant or at the Fukushima nuclear power plant.
“Russian generals – think again!”
The head of the United Nations Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) expressed “great concern” that Russian troops were operating near Zaporizhia.
Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi said an accident at the plant would have “serious consequences for public health and the environment”.
Guards fought back as officials warned that a direct hit on waste dumps could spread a cloud of radioactive dust across Europe.
A message from Energoatom CEO Petro Kotin said that columns of Russian military equipment and forces were approaching with “shells that exploded near the nuclear power plant.”
He said: “We call on the IAEA to intervene to prevent occupation forces in the 30-kilometer zone around our nuclear power plants in Enerhodar and in Voznesensk, Mykolaiv region.
He also demanded the return of the Chernobyl reactor to Ukrainian troops.
https://www.the-sun.com/news/4819178/ukraine-putin-another-chernobyl-nuclear-plant-attack/ Ukraine says Vladimir Putin wants ‘another Chernobyl’ after nuclear plant attack, while Boris seeks UN emergency meeting