KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — A Russian missile blasted a crater close to a nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine on Monday, damaging nearby industrial equipment but not hitting its three reactors. Ukrainian authorities denounced the move as an act of “nuclear terrorism.”
The missile struck within 300 meters (328 yards) of the reactors at the South Ukraine Nuclear Power Plant near the city of Yuzhnoukrainsk in Mykolaiv province, leaving a hole 2 meters (6 1/2 feet) deep and 4 meters (13 feet) wide, according to Ukrainian nuclear operator Energoatom.
The reactors were operating normally and no employees were injured, it said. But the proximity of the strike renewed fears that Russia’s nearly 7-month-long war in Ukraine might produce a radiation disaster.
This nuclear power station is Ukraine’s second-largest after the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, which has repeatedly come under fire.
Following recent battlefield setbacks, Russian President Vladimir Putin threatened last week to step up Russian attacks on Ukrainian infrastructure. Throughout the war, Russia has targeted Ukraine’s electricity generation and transmission equipment, causing blackouts and endangering the safety systems of the country’s nuclear power plants.
The industrial complex that includes the South Ukraine plant sits along the Southern Bug River about 300 kilometers (190 miles) south of the capital, Kyiv. The attack caused the temporary shutdown of a nearby hydroelectric power plant and shattered more than 100 windows at the complex, Ukrainian authorities said. The U.N.’s International Atomic Energy Agency said three power lines were knocked offline but later reconnected.
Ukraine’s Defense Ministry released a black-and-white video showing two large fireballs erupting one after the other in the dark, followed by incandescent showers of sparks, at 19 minutes after midnight. The ministry and Energoatom called the strike “nuclear terrorism.”
A crater left by a Russian rocket is seen 300 meter from the South Ukraine nuclear power plant, in the background, close to Yuzhnoukrainsk, Mykolayiv region, Ukraine, Monday, Sept. 19, 2022. (South Ukraine Nuclear Power Plant Press Office via AP)ASSOCIATED PRESS
The Russian Defense Ministry did not immediately comment on the attack.
Russian forces have occupied the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, Europe’s largest, since early after the invasion. Shelling has cut off the plant’s transmission lines, forcing operators to shut down its six reactors to avoid a radiation disaster. Russia and Ukraine have traded blame for the strikes.
The IAEA, which has stationed monitors at the Zaporizhzhia plant, said a main transmission line was reconnected Friday, providing the …read more