Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Friday Ukraine’s shelling of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant was raising the risk of a nuclear catastrophe in Europe.
Shoigu accused Ukraine of “nuclear terrorism” and rejected assertions by Kyiv and the West that Russia had deployed heavy weapons at Europe’s biggest nuclear power plant, located in southern Ukraine and under Russian control since March.
“We do not have heavy weapons on the territory of the nuclear power plant or in the surrounding areas. I hope the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) mission will be convinced of this,” Shoigu said in remarks published by the defense ministry.
For all the latest headlines follow our Google News channel online or via the app.
An IAEA mission arrived at the plant on Thursday to inspect operations and assess any damage.
Both Kyiv and Moscow have accused each other of attacking the facility. Reuters was unable to verify battlefield reports.
Shoigu on Friday doubled down on Moscow’s insistence that Kyiv would carry the responsibility for any escalation at the site, amid fears of a Chornobyl-style nuclear disaster.
Shoigu said Kyiv was “creating a real threat of nuclear catastrophe” and using western-supplied weapons to attack the plant.
He said Ukraine had fired 120 artillery shells and launched 16 “kamikaze” drone attacks over the last six weeks.
“This is nothing short of nuclear terrorism,” Shoigu added, as he also accused the United States and European Union of “encouraging such reckless actions.”
Kyiv blames Moscow for the shelling and accuses it of using the facility to shield its forces, a charge Moscow denies.
Russian officials said earlier this week that radiation levels at the facility remain normal.
Two IAEA officials are set to remain at the plant on a permanent basis following the conclusion of this week’s mission, Russia’s ambassador to the international institutions in Vienna said on Friday.
Ukraine’s Enerhodar, site of Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, is without power: ReportA Russian-installed official in the Russian-controlled Ukrainian town of Enerhodar ... World News
Dozens of schools hit in Ukraine’s second city: NGOThe new school year in Ukraine starts on Thursday but dozens of educational ... World News
Putin visits Russia’s exclave Kaliningrad as tensions with EU soarPresident Vladimir Putin on Thursday was in Russia’s exclave of Kaliningrad, ... World News