Russia and Ukraine traded accusations about which military is shelling the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant as the situation at the plant is deteriorating. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy tweeted:
Zelenskyy has a good point. The Russians are acting incredibly irresponsibly by not allowing inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to examine the plant and talk to the engineers who are being held at gunpoint by the Russians. But the danger is coming from the shelling of the plant. And with Russia occupying it, perhaps Mr. Zelenskyy should look to his own forces to act more responsibly.
Zelenskyy claims that there are troops and weapons being stored on the site and that the Russians are attacking Ukrainian forces from inside the plant. Russia says Ukrainian forces are firing into the plant for no reason except to cause a disaster.
It’s a game of nuclear chicken the world can’t afford.
Both sides are warning of a “false flag” operation set for today, so the prospect of something breaking today appears to be high. The Ukrainian power company that ostensibly runs Zaporizhzhia is claiming that the Russians are preparing to make the risky move of disconnecting the plant from the power grid. Unless it’s done precisely, there’s a chance of a disaster.
“There is information that the Russian occupation forces are planning to shut down the power blocks and disconnect them from the power supply lines to the Ukrainian power system in the near future,” Energoatom said in a statement quoted by Reuters.
“The Russian military is currently looking for fuel suppliers for the diesel generators, which are supposed to turn on after the power units are shut down in the absence of an external power supply for the nuclear fuel cooling systems,” the statement said.
Moscow, meanwhile, accused Kyiv of planning a “provocation” at the site, saying Ukraine is shelling at its own nuclear facility in order to blame Russia. Ukrainian and Western officials warn that is a sign Russia’s military could be preparing for a “false-flag attack”.
Russian President Vladimir Putin told French President Macron that IAEA inspectors may be allowed into the plant in early September. But the United States is insisting that the inspectors be allowed in sooner.
“The International Atomic Energy Agency must be given access to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant as soon as possible and in a manner that respects Ukraine’s full sovereignty to help ensure the safety and security of the plant and monitoring of its nuclear material,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said during a daily press briefing.
“The United States condemns in the strongest terms Russia’s reckless disregard for nuclear safety and security,” Price said, adding that Washington and its allies “call on Russia to cease all military operations at or near Ukraine’s nuclear facilities.”
Why not call on Ukraine to do the same thing? Zelenskyy’s “reckless disregard” for the safety of the world needs to be criticized as well. The fact is, one misdirected shell, one malfunctioning missile and the world’s breadbasket would be irradiated for a hundred years.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the Ukrainian president had asked him to ensure that Russia remove weapons stored at the plant as an “important step for world peace.” Erdogan may be a key player in this drama because he’s one of the only leaders who’s talking to both Putin and Zelenskyy.
“Zelenskyy asked this of us especially: that Russia remove all mines and similar (weapons) there and for the issue to rapidly cease to be frightening. Because it is a threat,” Erdogan said.
Erdogan, whose country has maintained close relations with both Ukraine and Russia, said he would discuss the issue with Russian President Vladimir Putin, saying that “Russia must do its part in this regard.”
The longer the war goes on, the better the chance of some kind of catastrophe at Zaporizhzhia. That’s why it’s absolutely imperative that both sides stop shooting long enough for the IAEA to tell us how close we are to a nuclear accident.