Russia claims that Ukrainian forces have repeatedly launched targeted attacks hitting the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, a sensitive area known as the largest nuclear power plant in Europe with at least six operating reactors. On August 7, the military-civilian administration of Energodar city, located in the north-western part of Zaporizhzhia Oblast in Ukraine, accused Ukrainian forces of launching a 220 mm Uragan rocket with a cluster warhead. The Russian officials said that Ukraine’s strike has damaged the station’s administrative buildings and the repository’s adjacent territory. The Ukrainian military bombarded the Zaporzhye NPP on August 5 and 6, claimed the local authorities.
Recently, Energoatom, a Ukrainian company operating all four nuclear power stations, claimed that Russian forces bombarded Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Plant to disconnect it from Ukraine’s energy system. The state-run nuclear company also called for cooperative actions of security organizations, including the UN, IAEA, and WANO to deter Russia from further attacking Europe’s largest nuclear facility and its complete demilitarization.
Who controls Zaporizhzhia NPP?
The Zaporrihzhia power plant, located in southeastern Ukraine is the largest nuclear power station in Europe. It was captured by Russian forces in the opening stages of the war. Reports claim that the power plant is still run by Ukrainian workers and it operates at 70% capacity as the region has a high supply of electric power and the Kremlin plans to direct part of the electricity generated at the Zaporizhzhia NPP to Crimea.
Who is attacking?
On July 22, the Ukrainian Defense Ministry’s intelligence wing tweeted a video of an apparent drone strike on the encampment. The video showed an explosion near the tents, which caused dozens of Russian troops to flee. The video then shows the tents on fire. The Ukrainian ministry claimed that the kamikaze drone injured 12 soldiers and killed three others.
Satellite images corroborate that video. Low-resolution imagery from Planet shows the strike may have occurred between July 19 and July 21. A higher-resolution image from Aug. 7 shows burn scars and damaged tents where the Russian encampment once stood.
“It did show that Ukrainians wouldn’t hesitate to attack the Russian military inside the facility itself,” says Wim Zwijnenburg, a researcher studying the environmental impacts of war for the Dutch nonprofit PAX.
Lyman says that the Ukrainians may have had confidence in the precision of their strike, but it was still a huge risk to hit inside the perimeter of the facility.
“That’s clearly starting to play with fire,” he says.