Russians take nuclear power plant in Ukraine; no radiation after fire – Press Enterprise


Kyiv, Ukraine (AP) – Russian troops on Friday seized Europe’s largest nuclear power plant after a late-night attack that set it ablaze and briefly sparked global fears of a catastrophe in the most chilling turn of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine yet.

Firefighters put out the fire and no radiation was released, UN and Ukraine officials said, as Russian forces continued their week-long offensive on multiple fronts and the number of refugees fleeing the country topped 1.2 million.

While the massive Russian armored column threatening Kyiv stalled outside the capital, President Vladimir Putin’s military have launched hundreds of rocket and artillery attacks on cities and other locations across the country and in an apparent attempt to gain significant ground in the south achieve cutting off Ukraine’s access to the sea.

In the attack on the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant in the southeastern city of Enerhodar, the head of the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency, Rafael Mariano Grossi, said a Russian “projectile” hit a training center, not one of its six reactors.

The attack sparked global alarm and fears of a disaster that could eclipse the world’s worst nuclear disaster in Ukraine’s Chernobyl in 1986. In an emotional late-night speech, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said he feared an explosion that would spell “the end for everyone.” The end for Europe. The evacuation of Europe.”

But nuclear officials from Sweden to China said no radiation spikes had been reported, as had Grossi.

Authorities said Russian troops have taken control of the entire site, but that plant personnel continue to operate it. Only one reactor is in operation, Grossi said after the attack.

Two people were injured in the fire, Grossi said. State-run Ukrainian nuclear power plant operator Enerhoatom said three Ukrainian soldiers were killed and two injured.

The crisis in Zaporizhia unfolded after Grossi earlier in the week raised serious concerns that the fighting could cause accidental damage to Ukraine’s 15 nuclear reactors at four plants across the country.

Nuclear safety expert Edwin Lyman of the Union of Concerned Scientists in Washington said the presence of reactors in the war zone added a new and highly dangerous dimension to the crisis in Ukraine.

“These facilities are now in a situation that few people ever seriously considered when they were originally built, and that is the potential that they would be in the middle of a war zone,” he said. “No nuclear power plant was designed to withstand a potential threat of full-scale military attack, and the facilities in Ukraine are no exception.”

After the attack, Zelenskyi again appealed to the West to enforce a no-fly zone over his country. But NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg ruled that out, citing the risk of a much larger war in Europe. He said that to enforce a no-fly zone, NATO planes would have to shoot down Russian planes.

“We understand the desperation, but we also believe that if we did, we would end up with what could end in a full-blown war in Europe,” Stoltenberg said.

The UN Security Council scheduled an emergency meeting on the factory attack on Friday.

Meanwhile, the Russian armed forces stepped up their offensive in the southern part of the country. Cutting off Ukraine’s access to the Black Sea and Sea of ​​Azov would deal a severe blow to its economy and could exacerbate an already dire humanitarian situation.

A round of talks between Russia and Ukraine on Thursday resulted in a tentative agreement on setting up safe corridors to evacuate citizens and deliver food and medicines. But the necessary details had yet to be worked out.

The UN human rights office said 331 civilians were killed in the invasion, but the true number is likely much higher.

In Romania, a newly arrived refugee, Anton Kostyuchyk, fought back tears as he recounted how he left everything in Kyiv and slept in churches with his wife and three children while fleeing.

“I am leaving my homeland, my country. I was born there and lived there,” he said. “And what’s next?”

The plant fire was the second time since the invasion began that concerns about a possible nuclear accident were raised after a fight ensued at the heavily contaminated site of the now-defunct Chernobyl plant.

In the face of global outrage, Russia sought to deflect blame and crack down on dissent at home.

Without providing any evidence, Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov claimed that a Ukrainian “sabotage group” set the fire in Zaporozhye.

The Russian parliament has unanimously approved a bill criminalizing intentionally spreading fake news. Russians could face up to 15 years in prison for disseminating information that goes against the official government line on the war.

Authorities also searched the offices of Russian human rights organizations.

Within Ukraine, shelling was heard more frequently in central Kyiv, albeit further away than in recent days, with a loud bang echoing across the rooftops every 10 minutes.

Advisor to the President of Ukraine Oleksiy Arestovich said fighting continued with airstrikes and artillery northwest of Kyiv and the northeastern cities of Kharkiv and Okhtyrka came under heavy shelling.

He said Ukrainian forces still held the northern city of Chernihiv and had thwarted Russian efforts to capture the key southern city of Mykolayiv. Ukrainian artillery also defended Odessa from repeated attempts by Russian ships to shell the Black Sea port, Arestovic said. Odessa is Ukraine’s largest port city and hosts a large naval base.

The Ukrainian Navy sank its flagship at the shipyard where it was being repaired to prevent the frigate from being seized by the Russians, authorities said.

Another strategic port, Mariupol on the Sea of ​​Azov, was “partially besieged” and Ukrainian forces pushed back efforts to encircle the city, Arestovich said.

“The humanitarian situation is tense,” he said, adding that Ukrainian authorities are in talks with Russian officials and international organizations to set up a humanitarian corridor to evacuate residents and deliver food.

The fighting has paralyzed the city’s power, heating and water systems, as well as most phone services, officials said.

In the midst of war there were occasional signs of hope.

When explosions were heard on the outskirts of Kyiv, Dmytro Shybalov and Anna Panasyk smiled and blushed at the registry office, where they got married on Friday. They fell in love with Donetsk in 2015 amid fighting between pro-Russian separatists and Ukrainian forces that was a precursor to the nationwide war.

“It’s 2022 and the situation hasn’t changed,” Shybalov said. “It’s scary to imagine what will happen when our children are born.”


Karmanau reported from Lemberg, Ukraine. Chernov reported from Mariupol, Ukraine. Sergei Grits in Odessa, Ukraine; Francesca Ebel, Josef Federman and Andrew Drake in Kyiv; Jamey Keaten in Geneva; Vanessa Gera in Warsaw, Poland; and other AP journalists from around the world contributed to this report.


Follow AP’s coverage of the Ukraine crisis at


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