Russia and Ukraine have accused each other of bombing Europe’s largest nuclear power plant.
Shells hit a high-voltage power line at the Zaporizhzhia plant, prompting operators to disconnect a reactor when no radioactive leak was detected.
The plant was captured by Russian forces back in March, but is still led by Ukrainian technicians.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has accused Moscow of committing “an open and brazen crime” and “an act of terror” – and is calling for new sanctions against Russia’s entire nuclear industry.
In a late-night address, he said, “It’s purely a matter of security. Those who create nuclear threats to other nations are certainly not capable of using nuclear technologies safely.
The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry warned: “The possible consequences of an impact on an operating reactor are equivalent to the use of an atomic bomb”.
Meanwhile, the Russian Defense Ministry claimed Ukraine’s armed forces were to blame and said it was a matter of luck that a radiation leak was averted.
It said in a statement: “Fortunately, the Ukrainian shells did not hit the nearby oil and fuel facility and oxygen plant, thus averting a larger fire and possible radiological accident.”
Energoatom – Ukraine’s national nuclear energy company – says the Zaporizhzhia plant remains operational and no radioactive discharges have been detected.
Earlier this week, the UN nuclear watchdog requested access to the plant, with Washington saying Russia is using the site as a shield on the battlefield.
More grain shipments leave Ukraine
In other developments, three other vessels carrying thousands of tons of maize left Ukrainian ports Friday.
It’s another sign that a grain export deal trapped since Russia invaded the country nearly six months ago is slowly moving forward.
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But hurdles remain to get the food to the countries that need it most, and experts say most of the supplies Ukraine tries to export will be used for animal feed.
Shipments are not expected to have a significant impact on the world price of corn, wheat and soybeans.