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Russia accuses Ukraine of shelling Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant, warns of Chernobyl-like disaster

Currently controlled by Russia, the Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP) in Ukraine is the largest nuclear power plant in Europe

Accusing Ukrainian armed forces of shelling the Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP) with large-caliber artillery, Russia said on Saturday that the situation remains "extremely alarming" at the largest nuclear power plant in Europe.

Igor Vishnevetskii, Deputy Head of the Russian Delegation, told the ongoing Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference in New York that the shells fired by the Ukrainian forces hit the facility distributing electricity to the plant, which is fraught with the risk of its blackout.

He added that there is a fire in the area as pipelines were damaged and the repair crews cannot reach the scene as there is still a possibility of artillery shelling.

"The situation is extremely alarming, fraught with the risk of a man-made disaster at Europe's largest nuclear power plant. If the accident happens, it will be akin to Chernobyl. This situation concerns European states in the first place," Vishnevetskii said in a statement Saturday afternoon. 

Russia alleged that Ukraine is also targeting the city of Energodar, several kilometers from the Zaporozhye NPP, where the plant's personnel live.

"It is still not known what the consequences of this shelling are and whether there are any human casualties. All of this is being figured out," the statement added.

Making an appeal to international organisations – the United Nations, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) – as well as to "countries that have an influence on the Kyiv regime" to take action so that the shelling of nuclear power plants stops immediately, Moscow said that the consequences will be "hard to predict".

On the other hand, the Ukrainian nuclear energy agency Enerhoatom accused Russia of firing rockets and damaging a certain section of the nuclear power plant. KyivSupporting Kyiv's claims, the European Union's High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell said today that EU condemns Russia's military activities around Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.

"This is a serious and irresponsible breach of nuclear safety rules and another example of Russia's disregard for international norms. @iaeaorg must gain access," tweeted Borrell.

Reacting immediately, Russia's envoy in Vienna Mikhail Ulyanov said that EU officials live in "surreal" world.  

"This is amazing. The Ukrainian armed forces shelled the nuclear power plant, caused fire, destroyed power lines and the EU blames Russia for that thus encouraging Kiev to continue attacks against the plant," he said in his reply to Borrell's tweet.

After the Russian President Vladimir Putin assured its physical and nuclear protection in March, there have been heightened concerns about the safety of Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant lately.  

While inaugurating the Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference earlier this week, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres noted that the conference takes place "at a time of nuclear danger not seen since the height of the Cold War".

Also Read: Putin assures Macron – Ukranian nuclear power plants pose no radiation risk