Ukraine and Russia trade accusations of imminent attack on Europe’s largest nuclear plant

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Ukraine and Russia accused each other on Wednesday of planning to attack one of the world’s largest nuclear power plants, which is located in southeastern Ukraine and occupied by Russian troops, but neither side provided evidence to support their claims.

Citing intelligence reports, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Russian troops had placed “objects resembling explosives on the roof of several power units” of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant.

The objects could be used to “simulate” an attack, he said, meaning a false flag attack.

A statement from the General Staff of Ukraine’s armed forces said the “foreign objects” were placed on the outer roof of the plant’s third and fourth power units.

“Their detonation should not damage power units but may create a picture of shelling from Ukraine,” the statement said.

In Russia, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov raised the spectre of a potentially “catastrophic” provocation by the Ukrainian army at the nuclear plant, which is Europe’s largest but has its six reactors shut down.

“The situation is quite tense. There is a great threat of sabotage by the Kyiv regime, which can be catastrophic in its consequences,” Peskov said in response to a reporter’s question.

He also claimed that Kremlin is taking “all measures” to counter the alleged Ukrainian threat.

His comments came after Renat Karchaa, an advisor to Russian state nuclear company Rosenergoatom, said there was “no basis” for Zelenskyy’s claims of a plot to simulate an explosion. The Ukrainian leader made the allegation in his nightly video address to on Tuesday.

“Why would we need explosives there? This is nonsense, (aimed at) maintaining tension around the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant,” Karchaa said.

Russian media on Tuesday cited Karchaa as saying that Ukraine’s military planned to strike the plant with ammunition laced with nuclear waste early Wednesday.

As of Wednesday afternoon, there was no indication of such an attack.

Ukraine has warned for months of Russian plans to cause a deliberate release of radiation from the plant, citing internal intelligence reports.

Ukrainian officials have alleged that Moscow might try to sabotage the plant in an attempt to derail Kyiv’s ongoing counteroffensive in the surrounding Zaporizhzhia region.

Russia occupied the plant in the early stages of the war. Over the past year, Russia and Ukraine repeatedly accused each other of shelling the facility.

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