According to Ukrainian officials, a fire started by Russian shelling at Europe’s largest nuclear reactor has been put out, and Russian soldiers have assumed control of the complex.
So far, no increases in radiation levels have been detected, according to Ukraine’s official nuclear authority. Staff are examining the site to see whether there is any more damage to the compartment of reactor No. 1 at the Zaporizhzhia facility in Enerhodar, according to the report.
The regulator stressed the significance of preserving the capacity to cool nuclear fuel in a Facebook message, stating that losing such ability may result in a calamity worse than the 1986 Chernobyl tragedy, the world’s worst nuclear disaster, or the 2011 Fukushima meltdowns in Japan. It also mentioned that the location has a spent nuclear fuel storage facility, albeit there was no evidence that it had been shelled.
The facility was shelled as the Russian military intensified its onslaught on a key energy-producing Ukrainian city, gaining progress in their attempt to cut Ukraine off from the sea. As the invasion reached its second week, Russia and Ukraine held another round of negotiations, yielding a tentative agreement to provide safe corridors for civilians to be evacuated and humanitarian supplies to be delivered.
Leading nuclear officials were concerned, but not alarmed, about the power plant’s damage. Following the attack, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and US Vice President Joe Biden, as well as other international leaders, exchanged phone conversations. As a precaution, the US Department of Energy alerted its nuclear emergency response team.
Earlier, Andriy Tuz, a spokesperson for the nuclear power plant, informed Ukrainian television that shells hit the building directly, setting fire to one of its six reactors. He stated that the reactor is undergoing renovations and is not operational.
Radiation levels in the region “remain steady and do not jeopardize the lives and health of the people,” according to measurements performed at 7 a.m. Friday (0500 GMT) by the Zaporizhzhia regional military administration.
“The fire at the (nuclear plant) has really been extinguished,” Enerhodar Mayor Dmytro Orlov said on his Telegram channel Friday morning. The information came from firemen who were permitted inside the site overnight, according to his office.
According to a statement from his office, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has requested an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council in the “coming hours” to discuss Russia’s attack on the nuclear power facility.
The reactors at the Zaporizhzhia facility, according to US Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, are covered by substantial containment buildings and are being safely shut down.
Zelenskyy claimed he dreaded an explosion that would be “the end for everyone” in an impassioned address delivered in the middle of the night. Europe has reached its nadir. Europe is being evacuated.”
“Only immediate European action will be able to stop Russian soldiers,” he warned. “Do not allow Europe to perish as a result of a nuclear power plant disaster.”
However, most analysts saw no signs of imminent tragedy.
The incident did not impact critical equipment, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency, and Ukraine’s nuclear authority reported no change in radiation levels. According to the American Nuclear Society, the latest radiation readings were within normal background values.
The organization claimed in a statement that “the true threat to Ukrainian life continues to be the brutal invasion and bombardment of their nation.”
Russian bombardment ended a few hours before sunrise, according to Enerhodar Mayor Orlov, and inhabitants of the city of more than 50,000 who had stayed in shelters overnight could return home. However, the populace awakened without heat since the shelling had destroyed the city’s heating system, he explained.
A Russian military column was marching near the nuclear plant, according to the Ukrainian national atomic energy company, before to the bombardment. Late Thursday, loud gunfire and rocket fire were reported.
Later, what seemed to be armored vehicles rolled into the facility’s parking area, flashing headlights on the building where the camera was situated, according to a livestreamed security video connected from the Zaporizhzhia plant’s webpage.
Then came what seemed to be vehicle muzzle flashes, followed by virtually simultaneous explosions in nearby buildings. Smoke billowed into the frame before dissipating.
Over the last several days, Vladimir Putin’s forces have used their overwhelming firepower to conduct hundreds of missile and artillery raids on towns and other targets around the nation, achieving substantial gains in the south.
The Russians declared the conquest of Kherson, a 280,000-strong Black Sea port, and local Ukrainian officials verified the control of the city’s government buildings, making it the first major city to fall since the assault began a week ago.
The power plant in Okhtyrka was destroyed by a Russian airstrike on Thursday, leaving the city without heat or electricity, according to the region’s leader on Telegram. Russian troops stormed a military post in the city, which is located between Kharkiv and Kyiv, in the early days of the war, killing more than 70 Ukrainian soldiers, according to authorities.
“We’re trying to find out how to evacuate people out of the city as soon as possible,” Dmytro Zhyvytskyy said, “since the apartment complexes will transform into a frigid stone trap without water, light, or power in a day.”
On the edges of another major port on the Azov Sea, Mariupol, heavy battle persisted. According to officials, the clashes have knocked off the city’s electricity, heat, and water services, as well as most phone service. The city’s food delivery were also halted.
The assault was captured on film by the Associated Press in the port city, lighting up the darkening sky above abandoned streets and medical workers treating people, including a 16-year-old kid inside a clinic who was unable to be rescued. According to his father, who cradled the boy’s head on the stretcher and wailed, the toddler was playing soccer when he was wounded in the shelling.
Denying Ukraine access to the Black and Azov seas would cripple its economy and allow Russia to construct a land corridor to Crimea, which it annexed in 2014.
Overall, the outmanned and outgunned Ukrainians have fought back valiantly, defying Russia’s apparent expectation of a quick triumph. However, a senior US defense official, commenting on the condition of anonymity, said Russia’s acquisition of Crimea provided it with a logistical edge in that area of the nation, with shorter supply lines smoothing out the attack there.
Ukrainian officials urged citizens to protect their country by felling trees, creating city barriers, and striking invading formations from behind. Authorities have recently given citizens guns and instructed them how to build Molotov bombs.
“Total resistance…. This is our Ukrainian trump card, and this is what we can do best in the world,” an assistant to Zelenskyy, Oleksiy Arestovich, said in a video message, referring to guerrilla activities in Nazi-occupied Ukraine during WWII.
In neighboring Belarus, the second round of discussions between Ukrainian and Russian delegates took place. However, the two sides looked to be at odds going into the summit, with Putin warning Ukraine that it needed to accept the Kremlin’s demand for “demilitarization” and declare itself neutral, abandoning its NATO membership aspiration, as soon as possible.
According to Macron’s administration, Putin informed French President Emmanuel Macron that he was committed to continue his offensive “to the end.”
The two sides said that they had informally agreed to enable cease-fires in regions designated as safe corridors, and that they would work out the specifics as soon as possible. According to a Zelenskyy advisor, a third round of discussions will take place early next week.
Despite a plethora of proof of Russian military losses and property devastation, Putin denounced a “anti-Russian misinformation effort” and asserted that Moscow used “only precision weapons to solely attack military facilities.”
Putin stated that the Russian military had previously provided safe pathways for civilians to evacuate, but that Ukrainian “neo-Nazis” were stopping people from fleeing and using them as human shields, despite the lack of proof.
According to a US defense official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the link had not been announced, the Pentagon established a direct communication link with Russia’s Ministry of Defense earlier this week to avoid the possibility of a miscalculation sparking a conflict between Moscow and Washington.