One of Russia's top military commanders has threatened to blow up the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant in Enerhodar, Ukraine after heavy shelling over the weekend sparked fears of a potential radioactive catastrophe.
The facility was captured by Russian forces on March 3rd, nine days after President Vladimir Putin launched his unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.
Rafael Grossi, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said in an interview Tuesday with The Associated Press that the situation is getting more perilous every day at the Zaporizhzhya plant. The Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant is Europe’s largest atomic energy station.
Concerns over the stability of the physical integrity of the plant and the recent shelling in the region may be the least of Ukraine’s worries.
According to a Telegram post by Energoatam, a Ukrainian state nuclear agency, Major General Valery Vasiliev of Russia's Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical Protection Troops told his battalions that "there will be either Russian land or a scorched desert" surrounding the site.
“We warned them," Energoatam wrote that Vasiliev added. "The enemy knows that the station will be either Russian or nobody's. We are ready for the consequences of this step. And you, the liberating warriors, must understand that we do not have a second way. And if there is the most severe order - we must fulfill it with honor!"
Leaders around the world are speaking out about the emerging nuclear crisis. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy expressed his concerns over the deteriorating situation on Sunday.
Then, on Monday, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres condemned the attacks on and around Zaporizhzhia.
A spokesperson for the Kremlin, Dmitry Peskov said the shelling of the plant by “Ukrainian armed forces” was “fraught with catastrophic consequences” for Europe. Officials in Ukraine and Russia continue to exchange blame for the bombardment.
Tuesday marked the 77th anniversary of the atomic bomb attack on Nagasaki, Japan. It seems that unfortunately, the prospect of nuclear conflict is no longer in our past, but once again in our conceivable future.