Ukraine: Outcry as Russia takes Europe's largest nuclear plant

Ukrainian authorities warned an incident at Zaporizhzhia NPP could be worse than the Chernobyl disaster.

Ukraine: Outcry after Russia takes control of Europe’s largest nuclear power plant Zaporizhzhia NPP Youtube

Latest developments:

  • Boris Johnson is concerned for the safety of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Downing Street said
  • Scottish Labour’s party conference backdrop displayed the colours of the Ukrainian flag in solidarity with the war-torn nation
  • The international community needs to “come down hard on Putin” after Russian forces shelled the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station, seputy prime minister Dominic Raab said
  • Latvia’s foreign minister has said Nato should “consider all options” when asked about entering direct conflict with Russia
  • The BBC’s Russian Service website has been blocked in the country
  • President Zelensky said: “Europe must wake up now.”
  • Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer described the overnight attack on a nuclear plant in Ukraine as “deeply alarming”

Russia has taken control of Europe’s largest nuclear power station in Ukraine, according to the country’s nuclear regulator.

In the early morning, Ukrainian authorities reported a building at Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant was on fire after shelling by Russian forces.

The Ukrainian nuclear regulator and the International Atomic Energy Agency have said radiation levels remained within normal limits.

By approximately 6.20am, the fire, which was in a training building, had been extinguished, according to Ukrainian authorities.

The fire at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant started following shelling.

A Downing Street spokesperson called the situation “gravely concerning”.

Boris Johnson spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky after news of the fire at Zaporizhzhia.

“Both leaders agreed that Russia must immediately cease its attack on the power station and allow unfettered access for emergency services to the plant,” the No 10 spokesperson said.

“The Prime Minister said he would be seeking an emergency UN Security Council meeting in the coming hours, and that the UK would raise this issue immediately with Russia and close partners.

“Both leaders agreed a ceasefire was crucial.”

The State Nuclear Regulatory Inspectorate of Ukraine said that processes were in place to ensure the safe cool down of nuclear fuel at the Zaporizhzhia power station but that an incident there could have an impact greater than the Chernobyl disaster in 1986.

“The loss of the possibility to cool down nuclear fuel will lead to significant radioactive releases into the environment,” an update said.

“As a result, such an event may exceed all previous accidents at nuclear power plants, including the Chornobyl accident and the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.”

At 7am Ukrainian President Zelensky said: “Europe must wake up now. Europe’s largest nuclear power plant is on fire. Right now, Russian tanks are firing upon nuclear units.

“These are tanks equipped with thermal imagers. That is, they know where they are shooting, they have been preparing for this.”

Scottish Labour’s party conference backdrop displayed the colours of the Ukrainian flag in solidarity with the war-torn nation.

A social media post read: “Scottish Labour stand with the people of Ukraine.”

Boris Johnson is concerned for the safety of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Downing Street said.

The Prime Minister has regularly spoken to the Ukrainian leader and has expressed his personal admiration of him.

Asked whether Johnson was worried about attempts reportedly made on Zelensky’s life, a spokesperson said: “Of course, everybody’s concerned for the safety and welfare of the President of Ukraine and the rest of the government, as well as the people of Ukraine who we’ve seen indiscriminately targeted over recent days.”

In response to the situation at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine, a Nuclear Industry Association spokesman said: “We condemn in the strongest possible terms the Russian military attacks around the Zaporizhzhia plant that have endangered the lives of nuclear workers bravely discharging their duties.

“We commend the extraordinary dedication of the station’s staff and operators in what are terrible circumstances, and emphatically endorse the IAEA’s call for a halt to all use of force around Ukraine’s nuclear power plants.

“We understand that the fire at the plant was not in the reactor buildings, has been extinguished and has not affected essential equipment, with no reported change in radiation levels.”

The Ministry of Defence said the city of Mariupol remains under Ukrainian control but has likely been encircled by Russian forces.

The city’s civilian infrastructure has been subjected to intense Russian strikes, an update said.

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