Ukraine war: Warning Russia ‘planning provocation’ at Zaporizhia plant

President Volodymyr Zelensky has warned of ‘global catastrophic consequences’ if the Russians do not withdraw from Zaporizhzhia (Picture: AFP/Reuters)

Ukraine officials fear a false flag attack on Europe’s biggest nuclear power plant is imminent, as officials warn ‘we don’t want another Chernobyl’.

The country’s military intelligence reportedly suggests Russian forces may be preparing to stage a ‘provocation’ at Zaporizhzhia.

The Kremlin is said to have told workers to not report for duty today after seizing the site back in March.

Moscow has been accused of utilising it as a base to target nearby towns, with fears of nuclear disaster stopping Ukraine from direct retaliation. 

But Russian officials insist Ukrainian forces are recklessly firing at the plant.

Dramatic pictures showed Ukrainian Emergency Ministry rescuers in hazmat suits and gas masks this week as they conducted exercises to prepare in case of a nuclear incident.

They were seen practicing evacuating an ‘injured man’, checking him for radiation before washing ‘contaminated’ vehicles.

It comes after the UN’s nuclear chief warned Zaporizhzhia ‘is completely out of control’ and must be stabilised to avoid a disaster.

Ukrainian Emergency Ministry rescuers attend an exercise in the city of Zaporizhzhia on August 17, 2022, in case of a possible nuclear incident at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant located near the city. - Ukraine remains deeply scarred by the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear catastrophe, when a Soviet-era reactor exploded and streamed radiation into the atmosphere in the country's north. The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine was occupied in the early days of the war and it has remained in Russian hands ever since. (Photo by Dimitar DILKOFF / AFP) (Photo by DIMITAR DILKOFF/AFP via Getty Images)

Ukrainian Emergency Ministry rescuers attend an exercise in the city of Zaporizhzhia on August 17, 2022, in case of a possible nuclear incident (Picture: AFP via Getty Images)

Although the plant is controlled by Russia, Ukrainian staff continue to run it, leading to friction and alleged violence, Rafael Grossi said.

President Volodymyr Zelensky has accused Russia of ‘nuclear blackmail’, urging Russian troops to withdraw.

‘This deliberate terror on the part of the aggressor can have global catastrophic consequences’, he said.

‘The UN must ensure the security of this strategic object, its demilitarisation and complete liberation from Russian troops.’

The United Nations and the presidents of Turkey and Ukraine discussed ways to end the war and secure Zaporizhzhia this week.

Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, said: ‘We are worried. We don’t want another Chernobyl.’

Meanwhile, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres: ‘Agreement is urgently needed to re-establish Zaporizhzhia’s purely civilian infrastructure and to ensure the safety of the area.’

A serviceman with a Russian flag on his uniform stands guard near the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (Picture: Reuters)
People in hazmat suits were seen washing ‘contaminated’ vehicles during the exercise (Picture: AFP via Getty Images)

Russia’s foreign ministry has insisted a proposal from Mr Guterres to demilitarise the area around the plant is ‘unacceptable’.

Safety precautions are being taken and there are no heavy weapons in and around the plant, they said. 

However, the ministry said a shutdown of the plant may be attempted if shelling continues.

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