Ex-Russian president warns of ‘accidents’ at EU nuclear sites
Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has warned of possible “accidents” at European nuclear sites, also accusing the Ukrainian government of risking a “new Chernobyl” as its forces continue to launch attacks near a major power plant.
Medvedev took to Telegram on Friday to sound alarms about the Zaporozhye nuclear plant – which was captured by Russian troops in late February and continues to be operated by local personnel – claiming that Ukrainian bombs were gradually inching closer to the facility.
“Kiev scumbags and their Western patrons seem ready to arrange a new Chernobyl. Rockets and shells are getting closer to the reactor of the Zaporozhye NPP and to the storage of radioactive isotopes,” he said.
The ex-president, who now serves in a senior position on Russia’s Security Council, went on to dismiss Ukrainian charges that Moscow itself is behind strikes near the plant, calling it “obvious, 100% nonsense, even for a dim-witted Russophobic public [in the West].”
“They say that [Ukrainian attacks around Zaporozhye] are purely by chance. Like they didn't want to,” he continued, adding “What can I say... we should not forget that there are nuclear power plants in the European Union. And accidents are also possible there.”
While it is unclear what Medvedev meant regarding potential nuclear incidents in Europe, he is far from the first Russian official to warn that military operations in the vicinity of nuclear sites could have catastrophic results. Moscow’s envoy to the United Nations, Vassily Nebenzia, reiterated those concerns to the body’s Security Council on Thursday, saying Ukraine’s “criminal attacks” were “pushing the world to the brink of a nuclear disaster that would rival Chernobyl.”
Located in the Russian-held city of Energodar in southern Ukraine, the Zaporozhye plant has been subjected to a series of attacks over the past few weeks. Moscow has accused Kiev of launching artillery and drone strikes on the facility, denouncing the operations as “nuclear terrorism.” Ukraine, however, claims Russia is the one targeting the plant in a plot to discredit Ukraine's war effort, also claiming Moscow has stationed troops at the facility to “shield” them from danger.
The UN has called the attacks “suicidal” and said it is “extremely concerned” about the situation at the facility, proposing to send a delegation from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to provide “technical support” and help avoid further escalation. Though Russia has urged the agency to brief the UN on the nuclear site, neither it nor Ukraine have responded to the IAEA’s offer.
The Zaporozhye plant is the largest in Europe and stores tens of tons of enriched uranium and plutonium in its reactor cores, in addition to spent fuel, according to the IAEA. The nuclear watchdog has not had access to the facility since Russian forces seized it earlier this year.