Russia says Ukraine attack hits Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant

Russian-installed officials at the plant say radiation levels remain normal after the attack.

nuclear power plant
A Russian service member stands guard at a checkpoint near the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in the Russian-controlled Zaporizhia region of Ukraine [File: Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters]

Russia, which occupies the site of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station in southern Ukraine, has accused Kyiv of attacking a dome above one of the plant’s shutdown reactors.

Ukraine has rejected the claim, and it was not immediately clear what weapon was used in the attack on the nuclear plant, which was seized by Russian forces shortly after their full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022.

Russian state-owned nuclear agency Rosatom said it was a drone.

Radiation levels were normal and there was no serious damage, according to the plant’s officials. But Rosatom later said that three people had been wounded, in the attack which struck near the site’s canteen.

Andriy Yusov, a spokesman for Ukraine’s defence intelligence, said Ukraine was not involved in any attack on the plant, which is the largest nuclear facility in Europe.

“Ukraine has not been involved in any armed provocations on the territory of the ZNPP (Zaporizhizhia Nuclear Power Plant), which is illegally occupied by Russia,” Yusov told the Ukrainska Pravda media outlet, urging Russian troops to withdraw.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which has experts at the site, said it had been informed by the Russian-run plant that a drone had detonated at the site and the information was “consistent” with IAEA observations.

The agency’s Director General Rafael Grossi urged both sides to avoid actions that might “jeopardise nuclear safety”.

The nuclear plant has six Soviet-designed VVER-1000 V-320 water-cooled and water-moderated reactors containing uranium-235. There is also spent nuclear fuel at the facility.

Reactors number one, two, five and six are in cold shutdown, while reactor number three is shut down for repair and number four is in so-called “hot shutdown”, according to the plant’s administration.

The plant remains close to the front lines, and both Ukraine and Russia have repeatedly accused the other of attacking the facility, raising the risk of a possible nuclear disaster.

Front-line fighting

Earlier on Sunday, a woman was killed when shrapnel from a downed Ukrainian drone hit a car travelling in Russia’s Belgorod region, according to the local Governor Vyacheslav Gladkov.

In a statement on the Telegram messaging app, Gladkov said that four more people, including two children, had been wounded after air defences brought down four Ukrainian drones on the approach to Belgorod city.

The Belgorod region, which borders Ukraine, has come under regular attack from Kyiv’s forces since 2022, with 25 people killed in a single missile strike on Belgorod city in December.

Russia’s army on Sunday said that it had destroyed 15 Ukrainian drones over its border in Belgorod and in the Bryansk region.

The army added that 12 of the 15 drones were destroyed over the Belgorod region.

Ukraine has for months launched drone attacks on several border areas as it tries to push back Russia’s advancing forces.

“Ukrainian drones destroy the occupiers. They protect the lives of our soldiers on the front lines. And they help Ukraine decrease Russiaʼs war potential,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in a post on the social media platform X on Saturday.

“In the sky and at sea, our drones have demonstrated that Ukrainian strength can defeat Russian evil,” he added.

Zelenskyy highlighted that Russian attacks continue in front-line regions like Kharkiv and Zaporizhia.

On Sunday, Kyiv said that a Russian strike on the town of Huliaipole in the southern Zaporizhia region killed three people.

“Two men and a woman died under the rubble of their own private house, which was hit by a Russian shell,” the head of the region, Ivan Fedorov, said on social media.

Officials added that a woman was also killed in the city of Kupiansk, in the northeastern Kharkiv region that has seen increased attacks in recent months.

Meanwhile in Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second largest city, Kyiv said Russia launched another attack on Sunday, injuring five civilians, a day after a deadly attack there.

On Saturday, two Russian strikes on Kharkiv killed eight civilians and injured at least 10 people, according to regional officials.

“We must put an end to this terror,” Zelenskyy said.

On Sunday, during a video meeting of the Kyiv-organised fundraising platform United24, Zelenskyy said that it was crucial for the US Congress to approve military aid to Ukraine, as the war continues to rage.

“It is necessary to specifically tell Congress that if Congress does not help Ukraine, Ukraine will lose the war,” he said.

“If Ukraine loses the war, other states will be attacked.”

Source: News Agencies