Russia has been accused of firing missiles from Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, despite warnings that retaliation could trigger a Chernobyl-style disaster.
The Zaporizhzhya plant was captured by Russian troops in the opening stages of the war in early March, but is still run by Ukrainian technicians.
It is now reported that, in addition to Zaporizhzhya, heavy artillery is being used to fire rockets across the Dnieper River in southern Ukraine.
While Russia has denied carrying out attacks from the plant, reports from Ukraine suggest military trucks entered and exited the power station.
Experts say it is “very likely” that the trucks are unloading ammunition.
It comes as the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) warned that the situation in Zaporizhzhya is “completely out of control” and getting more dangerous every day.
Rafael Grossi said the “patchy” communications from the Zaporizhzhia facility and his organization’s inability to visit the site were of great concern.
“What is at stake is extremely serious and extremely serious and dangerous,” he said.
The nuclear power plant was dealing with a “catalogue of things that should never happen in a nuclear facility,” the IAEA director general emphasized.
“And that’s why I insisted from day one that we should be able to go there to do this safety and security assessment, make the repairs and help out like we already did in Chernobyl,” he said.
In addition to strikes reportedly launched from the factory, the power station has also been hit by attacks that both sides blame each other for.
Ukraine’s state nuclear power company said Russian forces damaged three radiation sensors at the facility on Saturday night in renewed shelling, injuring a worker with shrapnel.
Energoatom said the latest Russian missile strikes have hit the plant’s dry storage facility, where 174 containers of spent nuclear fuel were stored in the open air.
“As a result, timely detection and response to deterioration of the radiation situation or leakage of radiation from spent fuel containers is not yet possible,” the ministry said.
Meanwhile, Moscow said Ukraine had hit the Russian-installed government of occupied Enerhodar, where the plant’s workers live, using a 220-mm Uragan multiple rocket launcher system.
Grossi said Friday’s shelling showed the risk of nuclear disaster. Those shells hit a power line, forcing the plant’s operators to disconnect a reactor, despite no radioactive leak being detected.
“Russian nuclear terror requires a stronger response from the international community – sanctions against Russia’s nuclear industry and nuclear fuel,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky wrote on Twitter.