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Ukraine’s energy minister warned on Monday that “the world is once again on the brink of nuclear disaster” after heavy shelling knocked down the last transmission line of Europe’s largest nuclear power plant.
In a written message shared on Facebook Monday, Ukrainian Energy Secretary German Galushchenko said that most of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) mission has left the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, as the station “is out of stock again “.
“The last line connecting it to the energy system of Ukraine – LEP 330 kW ZATES – Ferosplavna – separated due to the fire that occurred following the bombing,” wrote Galushchenko. “Now any repair of the lines is impossible: there are combat operations around the station.”
“The world is once again on the brink of nuclear disaster,” he added. “Unemployment of the UPP and creating a demilitarized zone around it is the only way to guarantee nuclear safety.”
UKRAINE NUCLEAR PLANT NEAR FIRST LINE LOSES LAST POWER LINE AMONG FEAR OF DISASTER
Energoatom, the operator of the facility, said in a statement that Russian forces have continued “intensive bombing” of the area around Zaporizhzhia in recent days.
“This is a real and dangerous situation. It is not only Ukrainians who are concerned about it,” Rebekah Koffler, a former intelligence officer with the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), told Fox News Digital. “International experts in nuclear safety have been worried in recent months. Structurally, the plant has deteriorated to the point of being in the last stage.”
The International Atomic Energy Agency, a United Nations watchdog, said last Saturday that the plant had lost its last main line to the grid, but was still sending power to the grid through a reserve line. Monday’s developments came a day before UN inspectors were supposed to report on their efforts to avoid a potential disaster at the Ukrainian site that was engulfed by the Russian war.
On Monday, the Russian army accused Ukrainian forces of organizing “provocations” at the plant, which is located within an administrative area installed by Russia.
“This is part of the asymmetric warfare of the Russians: they captured the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant about a week after Russian forces invaded Ukraine,” Koffler said. “The idea is not necessarily to cause a nuclear disaster because it would also be bad for Russia given the proximity, but the idea is twofold: first, to threaten to hang this sword on the heads of Ukrainians and Europeans, this potential radiation, nuclear leak. But then the second, the practical reason is to actually cut the electricity from the Ukrainians to freeze them in the winter because this plant provides about 20% of the electricity. “
“The Russians used this plant as a cover to hit the Ukrainians and when the Ukrainians bomb – nobody is inadvertently targeting those reactors, nobody wants it, but this is the result that the plant has been run down,” added Koffler.
The Russian Defense Ministry said Kiev forces targeted the plant’s territory with a drone on Sunday, which it said Russian troops were able to shoot down.
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The ministry said Ukrainian troops also bombed the adjacent city of Enerhodar twice during the night.
The two sides exchanged accusations of endangering the facility, which Kremlin forces have held since the beginning of March. The Ukrainian staff of the plant continues to manage it.
On a perilous mission, experts from the International Atomic Energy Agency traveled through the war zone to reach the plant last week.
Four of the six inspectors from the UN nuclear agency completed their work and left the site, Energoatom, the Ukrainian state nuclear power plant operator, said on Monday. Two of the experts are expected to remain at the facility on a permanent basis, Energoatom said.
Ukrainian presidential adviser, Mykhailo Podolyak, applauded the IAEA’s decision to leave some experts at the plant.
“There are Russian troops now who don’t understand what’s going on, they don’t properly assess the risks,” Podolyak said.
“There are a number of our workers there, who need some kind of protection, people from the international community who stand by them and say (Russian troops): ‘Don’t touch these people, let them work,'” he said. added.
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On Tuesday, the UN inspectors will inform the Security Council of what they discovered during their visit. The plant is largely paralyzed, in the midst of a grinding war that has hit the energy markets.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.