Attack on Ukraine nuclear power plant by Russia would be ‘war crime’ by Putin, says US senator



Ed Markey, the US senator for Massachusetts, said on Friday that an attack on the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant in Ukraine by Russian forces would amount to a “war crime” by Vladimir Putin.

Mr Markey tweeted: “This would be an international war crime by Putin that could result in incredible devastation.”

On Friday morning, a fire broke out at the Zaporizhzhia plant, Europe’s largest nuclear facility, following continuous shelling of buildings by Russian troops.

Although the fire was put out in a few hours, it led to fears of a catastrophic nuclear disaster that would be “ten times larger than Chernobyl” disaster of 1986. The regional authority announced later on Friday that the plant has been seized by Russian military forces.

“Russia’s horrifying attack on the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant could result in a nuclear disaster spanning hundreds of square miles in all directions. Fallout doesn’t respect borders,” said Mr Markey, who is also the chair of subcommittees on clean air, climate and nuclear safety.

The International Atomic Energy Agency had also said that it was putting its “incident and emergency center in full 24/7 response mode due to serious situation” at the nuclear power plant.

Earlier in the day, US president Joe Biden and UK prime minister Boris Johnson had demanded that Russian troops cease firing on the Ukrainian power plant and make way for emergency services.

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy accused Russia of resorting to “nuclear terror” and wanting to “repeat” the Chernobyl disaster.

He said in a video message: “No country other than Russia has ever fired on nuclear power units. This is the first time in our history. In the history of mankind. The terrorist state now resorted to nuclear terror.”

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Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has entered the second week now and more than a thousand have been killed or wounded so far.

The United Nations has said that more than a million refugees have fled Ukraine since Russia ordered an invasion on 24 February.

Both sides — Russia and Ukraine — have agreed on the need for the humanitarian corridors to deliver aid and help civilians exit Ukrainian cities. Mykhailo Podolyak, Ukraine’s negotiator, said the two sides have agreed to set up “communication and cooperation lines as soon as possible to facilitate the evacuation of civilians.”

UK’s prime minister Boris Johnson had told Parliament that the bombing of innocent civilians “already fully qualifies as a war crime”. The International Criminal Court chief prosecutor, Karim Ahmed Khan, had said earlier this week that he wanted to open an investigation into possible “war crimes and crimes against humanity in Ukraine”.

The Independent has a proud history of campaigning for the rights of the most vulnerable, and we first ran our Refugees Welcome campaign during the war in Syria in 2015. Now, as we renew our campaign and launch this petition in the wake of the unfolding Ukrainian crisis, we are calling on the government to go further and faster to ensure help is delivered.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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