Ukraine claims that Russia plans to fake a major nuclear accident at the Zaporizhzhia power plant and force a ceasefire

Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant on May 1, 2022.
Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant on May 1, 2022.ANDREY BORODULIN/AFP via Getty Images
  • Ukraine claims Russia is planning to stage an accident at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.

  • They said an accident would require a ceasefire, allowing Russia to prepare for Ukraine's counteroffensive.

  • The department provided no evidence for the claims.

Ukraine's defense ministry has warned that Russia is planning to simulate a major accident at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant (ZNPP) in order to thwart Ukraine's imminently expected counteroffensive.

The plant in southern Ukraine is Europe's largest and has been under Russian control since last year.

"Russians are preparing massive provocation and imitation of the accident at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant in the nearest hours," the Ukrainian defense ministry's intelligence directorate said on social media on Friday.

"They are planning to attack the territory of the ZNPP. After that, they will announce the leakage of the radioactive substances," it said.

The department claimed that Russia hopes to trigger an international investigation which would require a ceasefire, allowing Russia to use the break in fighting to better prepare for Ukraine's counteroffensive. It did not provide any evidence for its claims.

"They obviously will blame Ukraine," the Ukrainian department said.

Ukraine is expected to soon start its long-anticipated counteroffensive to retake territory occupied by Russia, including in the Zaporizhzhia region.

Fighting has continually raged around the power plant, and both Russia and Ukraine have blamed each other for dangerous incidents of shelling hitting the site.

The UN International Atomic Energy Agency has previously warned about the risks of "a severe nuclear accident" at the plant due to ongoing fighting.

An evacuation of nearly 2,000 people from towns in the area was conducted earlier this month, with reports of roads severely congested as people fled in busloads.

A radiation leak at the plant would require further evacuations, which would be complex in a war zone, experts say, according to Al Jazeera.

It was reported last week that Russian military forces had been enhancing defensive positions around the power plant ahead of the expected counteroffensive.

One of Ukraine's most senior security officials, Oleksiy Danilov, told the BBC on Saturday that Ukraine was ready to begin the counteroffensive and that it could begin "tomorrow, the day after tomorrow or in a week."

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