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Ukrainian nuclear agency Energoatom warned on Friday that it believes Russia is seeking to isolate the Zaporizhzhia plant from the national electricity grid as concerns continue to grow over a potential nuclear catastrophe.
The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant has been under Russian control since March, but operations have remained under the control of Ukrainian officials as bombing and fighting continue to threaten Europe’s largest nuclear power plant.
“There is information that the Russian occupation forces are planning to close the power blocks and disconnect them from the power lines to the Ukrainian electricity system in the near future,” Energoatom said in a statement on Friday, according to Reuters.
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“The Russian military is currently looking for fuel suppliers for diesel generators, which should turn on after the power units are shut down in the absence of an external power supply for the nuclear fuel cooling systems,” he added.
The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant supplies electricity to around a third of Ukraine, and the plant’s shutdown from the Ukrainian power grid could spell further problems for Kiev as it prepares for the coming winter months.
Energoatom accused Moscow of preparing to conduct a “full-scale provocation” around the plant as reports surfaced this week of Russian-operated cyber attacks targeting the plant.
Russia also accused Ukrainian forces of shooting at the plant.
“The potential threat from Europe’s largest nuclear power plant could be ten times greater than the scale of the Fukushima and Chernobyl disasters,” Energoatom said on Friday.
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Over 500 Russian soldiers have been stationed at the plant, and several missile attacks in recent weeks have put the plant under greater threat as officials warn of a massive radiation leak if nuclear waste units are damaged.
The plant’s communication lines, radiation monitoring sensors, nitrogen-oxygen station, hydrogen pipelines and other parts of the plant’s infrastructure have already been damaged, Ukrainian President Volodymyr said last week. Zelenskyy.
International officials, including the United Nations, have called on all sides to end the fighting around the plant and Russia’s withdrawal from the area.
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But on Friday, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov rejected these requests and suggested that the Russian occupation of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant will prevent a “Chernobyl scenario”.
On Thursday, the spokesman for the Russian Foreign Ministry Ivan Nechaev also called “a UN proposal to demilitarize the plant unacceptable”.