Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant seized by Russian military, reports say

Zaporizhzhia, Europe’s largest nuclear power plant in Ukraine, has been seized by the Russian military forces, the regional authority said on Friday.

“Operational personnel are monitoring the condition of power units,” Reuters reported, quoting a local authority.

The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant had come under an overnight attack from the Russian military but Ukraine authorities said it was “secured” and the fire at an adjacent five-story training facility was doused.

In a statement on Facebook, Ukraine’s emergency services confirmed that “at 06:20 [04:20 GMT] the fire in the training building of Zaporizhzhia NPP in Energodar was extinguished. There are no victims.”

The International Atomic Energy Agency said that it was putting its “incident and emergency centre in full 24/7 response mode due to serious situation” at the nuclear power plant.

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky accused Moscow of resorting to “nuclear terror” and wanting to “repeat” the Chernobyl disaster. In a video message, he said: “No country other than Russia has ever fired on nuclear power units. This is the first time in our history. In the history of mankind. The terrorist state now resorted to nuclear terror.”

Ukraine authorities said that there were no reports of any deaths so far.

Earlier, IAEA said the “essential” equipment at the Zaporizhzhia plant was not affected by firing from Russia. US secretary of energy Jennifer Granholm confirmed that the area near the nuclear facility has also not shown signs of elevated radiation readings.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he spoke to Mr Zelensky about the situation at the Zaporizhzhia plant. He said Russian forces must “immediately” cease an attack on the nuclear power plant.

US president Joe Biden also spoke to the Ukrainian president after the Russian shelling of the Zaporizhzhia plant on Friday and urged Russia to cease its military activities.

The two leaders urged Russia to cease hostilities and “allow firefighters and emergency responders to access the site.”

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has entered the second week now and more than a thousand have been killed or wounded so far. The United Nations also says that over a million refugees have fled Ukraine since Russia ordered an invasion last Thursday.

Russian military forces also seized control of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant days ago. At the time, Mr Zelensky had said: “Our defenders are giving their lives so that the tragedy of 1986 will not be repeated.”

He added: “This is a declaration of war against the whole of Europe.”