A senior Russian atomic energy industry official has warned that Ukraine is expected to launch a large-scale attack on the Zaporozhye Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP) overnight. The official, Renat Karchaa, who is a senior aide to the head of Rosenergoatom, a subsidiary to Russia’s state-owned atomic energy giant Rosatom, cited intelligence data received by the industry. Karchaa stated that on July 5, Ukrainian forces plan to attack the Zaporozhye plant with long-range high-precision munitions and suicide drones. Additionally, they are expected to attempt a strike on the plant with a heavy Tochka-U tactical ballistic missile filled with radioactive waste collected from the South-Ukrainian nuclear power plant.
The goal of the secondary attack, according to Karchaa, is to cause an increase in radioactivity readings in the region if the main launch fails to damage the facility enough to release hazardous materials into the air. The ZNPP was seized by Moscow from Ukraine early in the ongoing conflict and became formally transferred under Rosatom management. Both Moscow and Kiev have accused each other of subjecting the Russian-controlled facility to artillery fire and drone strikes.
Tensions surrounding the Zaporozhye plant have intensified in recent weeks, with Ukrainian officials repeatedly claiming that Moscow is preparing a nuclear incident at the facility. President Vladimir Zelensky has alleged that Moscow wants to cause a “radiation leakage” at the plant, while his aide, Mikhail Podoliak, accused Russia of placing mines in the plant’s cooling pond.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has dismissed these claims as “yet another lie” coming from Kiev, emphasizing that Moscow remains in close cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The head of the IAEA, Rafael Mariano Grossi, visited the facility recently and disputed Ukraine’s allegations, stating in his report that no mines were observed at the site, including the cooling pond.
The danger to the Zaporozhye plant has also been questioned by the White House. National Security Council spokesman John Kirby stated last week that the United States has not seen any indication that the threat is imminent.
It is important to note that this information comes amidst ongoing tensions between Russia and Ukraine, and there should be caution in interpreting and verifying these claims. However, any attack on a nuclear power plant would have severe consequences, potentially leading to a catastrophic release of radioactive materials and a threat to human lives and the environment.
The situation at the Zaporozhye Nuclear Power Plant remains highly sensitive and requires close attention from international bodies and diplomatic efforts to de-escalate tensions and ensure the safety of the facility. The potential consequences of any attack on a nuclear power plant highlight the need for peaceful resolutions to conflicts and the consistent adherence to international norms and agreements in nuclear security.