Why Russia’s takeover of a huge nuclear power plant in Ukraine is significant

Officials have expressed ‘serious concerns’ after Russia took control of a huge nuclear power plant in Ukraine this morning.

Fierce fighting broke out as Russian forces stormed the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant during the early hours.

Fears particularly grew when news of a fire at the plant emerged. Ukraine’s President Zelensky claimed that an explosion at the plant could result in an event “10 times worse than Chernobyl”.

The Press Association confirmed that Russian forces had taken over the facility at around 9.30am local time this morning.

Here is everything we know about the power plant and the Russian attack on the facility so far.

What happened?

Russian forces attacked the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Station during the early hours of this morning after they claimed control of the Ukrainian city of Kherson.

Shelling is said to have been carried out on the facility, while loud shots were heard by locals.

Later in the morning, Russia claimed control of the nuclear facility.

What is the significance of Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station?

Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Station is the largest of its kind in Europe

Zaoorizhzhia Nuclear Power Station is the largest power plant of its kind in Europe and is among the 10 largest in the world.

The plant, which is owned by Ukrainian state enterprise Energoatom, is said to provide a fifth of the total electricity generated in Ukraine.

It also accounts for almost half of the nuclear energy produced across the entire country.

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The nuclear plant is based on the banks of the Dnieper River in the south east of Ukraine, and is around 200km away from Dnipro, which is the fourth largest city in the country.

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Is there a threat from radiation following the attack?

Two people are said to have been injured in a blaze that broke out at the facility amid heavy fighting

Officials in the area grew concerned after fire emerged at the plant amid fierce fighting over the facility.

President Zelensky warned that the attack on the plant “threatened to cover the world in nuclear ashes” amid concerns that the blaze could have resulted in a nuclear explosion.

Ukrainian authorities confirmed this morning that the fire in the area had been extinguished after Russian forces took control of the facility.

The head of the United Nations’ atomic watchdog has said that there has been no release of radiation at the plant following the shelling from Russian forces.

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Rafael Mariano Grossi, director general at the International Atomic Energy Agency, said that the situation “continues to be extremely tense and challenging”.

Two people are said to have been injured in the blaze.

What has been said following the attack?

Ukrainian President Zelensky warned that an explosion at the plant could result in an event “10 times worse than Chernobyl”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky delivered an emotional address to his country after news emerged of a fire at the nuclear plant.

He said that an explosion at the plant could have lead to catastrophe “10 times worse than Chernobyl” and “threatened to cover the world with nuclear ashes”.

Mr Zelensky said: “For the first time in our history, the history of mankind, the terrorist state has springed to nuclear terror.

“Russian protagonists have threatened to cover the world with nuclear ashes, not it is not a threat, now it is a reality. We must stop the Russian military immediately.

“If there is an explosion, it is the end of everything, the end of Europe. It is the evacuation of Europe. Only immediate European action can stop Russian troops. Prevent the death of Europe from the nuclear disaster.”

Boris Johnson said he had held talks with the Ukrainian President during the early hours of this morning.

The Prime Minister described the situation at the plant as “gravely concerning”.

He later tweeted: “Four years ago our country was rocked when Russian military intelligence deployed a chemical weapon on Salisbury’s streets.

“My thoughts remain with all those affected and I pay tribute to the tireless efforts of all those involved in the response to this despicable attack.

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“Nations across the world, including Ukraine, stood with us then.

“Today we stand with Ukraine in doing everything we can to ensure Putin’s barbaric venture ends in failure.”

Justice Secretary Dominic Raab also described the attack as an “affront to the world at large”.

He told Times Radio: “It is clearly reckless, irresponsible and not only the fact they were shooting, bombarding that particular site, but when the Ukrainian emergency authorities were trying to put out the fire, the shelling continued.

“It must stop.

“We support the Ukrainians in dealing with the security situation there, but also I think come down hard on Vladimir Putin.”

He added: “It is an affront to the world at large.”

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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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