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UPDATED 2. Russians threaten to blow up nuclear power plant in case of Ukrainian advances – Energoatom

UPDATED 2. Russians threaten to blow up nuclear power plant in case of Ukrainian advances – Energoatom
UPDATE. In its 8 August assessment, the Insititute for Study of War said that the statement of a Russian general threatening to blow up Zaporizhzhia NPP that Energoatom shared is likely false and “distracts from the real risks of Russia’s militarization of the Zaporizhzhia NPP, which may include mining the plant and almost certainly includes the unsafe storage of military armaments near nuclear reactors and nuclear waste storage facilities.”

Russians laid explosive mines in Zaporizhzhia NPP in Enerhodar, threatening to blow it up, Ukraine’s state nuclear agency Energoatom said.

“Here will be either Russian land or a desert. The nuclear power plant will be either Russian or no one’s,” commander of the Russian garrison at NPP, head of Russia’s radiation, chemical, and biological forces major-general Valeriy Vasilyev said in a statement that was later deleted, Energoatom reported.

“As you know, we have planted mines in all the important facilities of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant. And we do not hide this from the enemy. We warned them. The enemy knows that the plant will be either Russian – or no one’s. We are ready for the consequences of this step. And you, warriors-liberators should understand that there is no other option. And in case of receiving the most severe order, we must fulfill it with honor!” Vasilyev is said to have stated, addressing his statement to the Russian occupiers whom Russian propaganda calls liberators.

We could not confirm whether the statement indeed belongs to Vasilyev or find its original place of publication.

Energoatom said in April that Valeriy Vasilyev became in charge of the Russian troops in Energodar in late March, and that the occupiers started forcefully dispersing peaceful protests in support of Ukraine under his command.

Russia has not officially reacted to Energoatom’s statement. Russia’s Ministry of Defense names Igor Kirillov as the head of Russia’s radiation, chemical, and biological forces, not Valeriy Vasilyev. This is why Russian Telegram channels say Energoatom’s statement is fake.

The representative of the press service of Ukraine’s Main Intelligence Department of the Ministry of Defense Andriy Yusov reported that the department had confirmed information about Russian troops mining the ZNPP power units, Energoatom said.

Screenshot of the statement, shared by Energoatom on Telegram

The Zaporizhzhia NPP has been at the center of attention in recent days.

  • On 7 August, Energoatom reported that Russia fired missiles at the Zaporizhzhia NPP, damaging three radiation monitoring sensors. The missiles were said to hit the ZNPP site directly next to the station’s dry storage of spent nuclear fuel. The same day, Energoatom stated that Russia was attacking the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant to destroy its infrastructure, disconnect it from the Ukrainian power grid and cut off power in southern Ukraine.
  • Following the incident, Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Rafael Mariano Grossi, has warned of a nuclear disaster after the Russian attack on the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, and insists that an IAEA mission be sent to the plant.
  • The previous day, Russian media The Insider reported, citing its sources, that the Russian military has already mined the area around the station and inside it, explosive cargo is placed near the power units and the engine room.
  • On 5 August, Energoatom reported that Russian troops conducted two false-flag attacks on the occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant’s industrial site, shelling from the occupied city of Eherhodar in the direction of the plant. Three impacts were reported to occur at the industrial site of the plant, damaging a 330 kV high-voltage line.
  • On the evening of 5 August, Russian rockets hit the part of the station where the nuclear reactor is located. Nitrogen-oxygen station and combined auxiliary building were damaged, and there were risks of hydrogen leakage & radioactive material sputtering, Ukraine’s Energoatom agency reported. Zaporizhzhia NPP’s power unit No. 4 was disconnected from the grid as a result of two power lines being damaged in the attack.
  • Russia’s shelling of the plant was condemned by the EU; President Zelenskyy called upon the IAEA and UN to demand that Russia withdraw from the plant.
  • On 21 July, Energoatom said that Russian occupiers were bringing explosives and heavy equipment in the operating hall of the NPP. At least 14 heavy equipment units with ammunition, weapons, and explosives are in the hall of the nuclear power plant in close proximity to an oil tank and hydrogen which cool the turbogenerator, it said.
An earlier version of this post said that it was Ukraine’s intelligence that said Russia has plans to blow up the station. This post was amended to add background about the earlier events around the NPP, information about the origin of the alleged statement and a disclaimer that we could not verify whether the statement indeed belonged to the Russian general.
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