The Russian army is threatening to deliberately blow up the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, adding that the location is already wired with explosives, as per Energoatom, the Ukrainian state-owned nuclear power station operator.
The nuclear power plant has been under Russian occupation since 4 March, when the plant was seized from Ukrainian forces during the battle for the nearby city of Enerhodar. During the fighting to capture the nuclear power plant, footage showed Russian forces firing heavy munitions towards the plant’s reactor and starting a fire in the complex, which had to be urgently extinguished.
Faced with a potential Ukrainian offence against Zaporizhzhia and pushes into the greater Kherson area, Energoatom asserted that the Russian general in charge of the garrison of the nuclear power plant had made direct threats to cause a major nuclear incident at the site.
At the same time, Major General Valery Vasiliev is reported to have asked his troops, “There will either be Russian land or a scorched desert.”
Energoatom claims that Ukrainian intelligence services are aware of the fact that Russian forces had rigged the site of the nuclear power plant with explosives.
“As you know, we mined all the important objects of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant. And we do not hide this from the enemy,” the occupying Russian general is quoted as saying. “We warned them. The enemy knows that the plant will be either Russian or nobody’s.”
The nuclear power plant, the largest in Europe and one of the largest in the world, contains six nuclear reactors producing 950 megawatts of energy each. For comparison, the Chornobyl Nuclear Power Plant, the site of one of the largest nuclear accidents in history, featured four reactors that produced the same total maximum capacity.