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Russia plans 'false flag' attacks on Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, Kyiv tells UN

by Abbey Fenbert April 16, 2024 6:00 AM 3 min read
A view of the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine on June 15, 2023. (Olga Maltseva/AFP via Getty Images)
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The drone attacks against the occupied Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP) on April 7 and 9 were part of a "well-planned false flag operation by the Russian Federation," Ukraine's Permanent Representative to the United Nations Sergiy Kyslytsya said at a U.N. Security Council meeting on April 15.

The ZNPP reportedly suffered at least three direct strikes on April 7 and another drone attack at the plant's nearby training center on April 9. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) called the strikes a "major escalation" in nuclear danger.

The Security Council convened on April 15 to discuss safety and security at the Zaporizhzhia plant, Europe's largest nuclear facility. The plant has been occupied by Russian forces since March 2022.

During the meeting, Kyslytsya said blame for the attacks and increased risks at the facility lies wit the Russian invasion and occupation.

"What happened at the ZNPP on 7th and 9th of April 2024 and thereafter was a well-planned false flag operation by the Russian Federation," he said.

Kyslytsya accused Russia of launching a disinformation and propaganda campaign aimed at justifying Moscow's illegal occupation of the nuclear plant.

"We categorically reject the insane allegations that Ukraine may cause nuclear disaster," he said.

WSJ: Putin wants to restart Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant
According to the Wall Street Journal, the IAEA received reports from inspectors stationed at the plant indicating that Russia wants to restart at least one of the ZNPP reactors sometime this year.

Russia has claimed that Ukrainian drones carried out the April attacks on the ZNPP, an accusation Ukraine's military intelligence agency (HUR) denies. HUR described the latest strike as "Russia's provocation."

Kyslytsya dismissed the idea that Ukrainian forces were responsible for the strikes, pointing out that Russia's allegations involve "low-power close-range FVP-drones" breaching the plant's heavy defenses.

While the IAEA announced on April 13 that all six of the plant's reactors had been moved into a state of cold shutdown, agency chief Rafael Mariano Grossi warned the Security Council that the potential for a disaster is still high.

"We are getting dangerously close to a nuclear accident," he said.

Grossi did not attribute blame for the strikes against the ZNPP to either Russia or Ukraine, but called for an immediate end to the "reckless attacks."

"We cannot sit by and watch as the final weight tips the finely balanced scale," he said.

Kyslytsya said that full liberation of the plant remains "the only way to remove all threats to nuclear safety and security."

Locals near Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant brace for potential disaster: ‘It would be the end of us’
Editor’s note: For this story, the Kyiv Independent talked to residents who live in Russian-occupied settlements in Zaporizhzhia Oblast. For their safety, we have changed their names. From the rooftop of his home, Anton can easily see the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, the largest nuclear plant…
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