World Russia, Ukraine renew blame game after 'powerful explosions' at...

Russia, Ukraine renew blame game after ‘powerful explosions’ at Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant

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Nov. 20 (BP) — Russia and Ukraine on Sunday renewed placing blame with each other after shelling resumed at the largest nuclear power plant in Europe.

The U.N.’s nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, said in a statement Sunday that “powerful explosions” were reported at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant on Saturday as Ukraine and Russia blamed each other for the renewed shelling.

“The news from our team yesterday and this morning is extremely disturbing. Explosions occurred at the site of this major nuclear power plant, which is completely unacceptable,” IAEA Director-General Rafael Mariano Grossi said in the statement.

“Whoever is behind this, it must stop immediately. As I have said many times before, you’re playing with fire!”

The renewed shelling, which damaged some buildings and equipment at the facility, comes after a period of “relative calm.”

Ukraine’s state nuclear company Energoatom said in a post to Telegram on Sunday that Russian shelling had continued “all morning” and that at least 12 hits were recorded while Rosenergoatom, Russia’s nuclear agency, accused Ukraine of perpetuating the shelling.

“The shelling resulted in damage to the station’s infrastructure. This is precisely the infrastructure that would enable the 5th and 6th power units to be launched to restore the Zaporizhia NPP’s electricity production for Ukraine’s needs,” Energoatom’s statement reads.

“As we can see, the Russian Federation neglects the stay of IAEA experts at the nuclear power plant, the common sense and safety of not only those who are at the station, but also those people who may become victims of an irreparable tragedy.”

Energoatom said that the presence of Russian troops at the plant presents as a “direct threat to the whole world.”

Western officials fear that fighting around the plant could lead to a nuclear disaster if the facility is intentionally or unintentionally struck.

Sergiy Kyslytsya, Ukraine’s permanent ambassador to the United Nations, told BP in an interview this summer that an incident at Zaporizhzhia “potentially can be much worse than Chernobyl.”

The Zaporizhzhia Regional Military Administration said in a statement that background radiation levels at the plant “does not exceed the natural background typical for this area.”

The news came as Lloyd Austin defended the continued U.S. support to Ukraine amid the country’s war with Russia, which he called a direct threat to European security and a challenge to NATO allies.

Austin said that Russia’s “deliberate cruelty” has also served as an attack on the rules for modern warfare causing Europe to grapple with “the instability, the destruction, the human misery, the flood of refugees, and the other dangers of an even more reckless and aggressive Russia.”

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