Tensions high in Zaporizhia: Guterres talks of “suicide mission”, Russia and Ukraine exchange accusations

Russia today asked countries that have influence with Ukrainian authorities to prevent attacks on facilities at the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant in southeastern Ukraine, which is currently under Russian military control.

“We believe that countries that have absolute influence over the Ukrainian leadership will use this influence to reject the continuation of these attacks,” Kremlin (Russian President) spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, as quoted by Spanish news agency EFE.

Peskov said, “The attacks on the nuclear power plant by the Ukrainian armed forces represent a very dangerous act, which, if aggravated, could have catastrophic consequences for the vast territories, including the territory of Europe.”

After several attacks on the nuclear power plant on Friday, Moscow and Kiev accused each other of compromising security at the facility, Europe’s largest.

Ukrainian nuclear power plant operator Energoatom today accused Russian troops of planting mines at the plant.

The Ukrainian company said on the social network Telegram that the explosion at the end of the plant was an attempt to warn Russian troops against the consequences of the Ukrainian army retaking territories occupied by Russia.

In a video message, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Russian forces had “created another very dangerous situation across Europe”.

“The bombing of this facility is an open and blatant crime, an act of terrorism,” Zelensky said, emphasizing calls for the international community to consider Russia a state sponsor of terrorism.

Russia, which has controlled the plant since March, denied the reports and accused Kiev of promoting “nuclear terrorism”.

“Ukraine’s attacks on nuclear facilities may qualify as acts of nuclear terrorism under international law,” wrote Russian Senator Konstantin Kosachev on the social network Telegram.

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Kosachev said the Ukrainian attack “calls into question the fulfillment of Ukraine’s obligations on the protection of nuclear facilities” at a time when the UN is holding a conference on the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons.

Pro-Russian officials in the Zaporozhye region, partially occupied by the Russian military, accused the Ukrainian military of attacking the nuclear power plant on Sunday, damaging power lines and industrial buildings at the complex.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned in Japan today that any attack on the nuclear power plant would be a “suicide mission”, referring to the attack in Saporigia, but not those responsible.

Guterres supported efforts by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to stabilize the situation in the region and access the nuclear power plant.

On Saturday, the director general of the IAEA, Argentine diplomat Rafael Grossi, expressed serious concern about the bombing of the nuclear plant and warned that it was “playing with fire” with the risk of a “nuclear catastrophe”.

Four nuclear power plants are in operation in Ukraine, with a total of 15 reactors, six of which are located in Zaporizhzhia.

According to Energoatom, only two of the six reactors in Zaporizhia are currently operational.

Information released by Ukrainian and Russian officials about the Ukrainian war, which was triggered by the February 24 Russian invasion, could not immediately be independently confirmed.

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