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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Thursday accused Russia of “nuclear terror” as fighting continues around the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in southeastern Ukraine.
Speaking at an international defense conference held in Denmark, Zelenskyy warned that Russia could cause “the largest radiation accident in history” at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, which is the largest nuclear power plant on the continent of Europe and one of the most great in the world.
“In terms of the actual consequences, it could be even more catastrophic than Chernobyl,” he said.
UN TRYING TO ACCESS THE UKRAINIAN NUCLEAR PLANT AFTER “SUICIDAL” SHELLING
Adding that fallout from its damage or destruction would amount to “Russia’s use of nuclear weapons, but without a nuclear attack.”
Zelenskyy’s comments follow days of international concern after the plant was attacked over the weekend when shelling fell around the site.
Both Russia and Ukraine have blamed each other.
G7 leaders have called on Russia to restore control of the nuclear power plant to Ukraine, which has already suffered damage to critical parts of its complex.
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, Zelenskyy said.
United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres expressed his “grave” concern at the continuing fighting in the area and called on both sides to cease all military activity around the facility and to “exercise common sense and reason” to avoid “catastrophic consequences”.
“Unfortunately, instead of the escalation being reduced, other deeply troubling incidents have been reported in recent days that could, if they continue, lead to disaster,” he added in a statement.
Ukraine accused Russia of using the plant as a “nuclear shield” and of sending some 500 Russian soldiers to the site, the BBC reported.
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Kiev said Moscow has turned the nuclear power plant into a military base, launching missile strikes from the vulnerable position despite knowing that Ukraine will be reluctant to fire back in the direction of the nuclear power plant.
“Russia has become a terrorist state, and it is actually holding nuclear power plants hostage and is blackmailing everyone with probable disaster,” Zelenskyy said Thursday. “None of us can stop the wind if it carries radiation. But together we can stop a terrorist state.
“The sooner we stop Russia, the sooner Europe and the world can feel safe again,” he added.
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Zelenskyy called for more sanctions against Russia and its nuclear program.
The UN has asked both sides to immediately grant the International Atomic Energy Agency access to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.