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Tension inside Ukrainian nuclear power plant in Zaporizhia: “Russians hold us at gunpoint”

  • James Waterhouse*
  • BBC News, Kyiv

image source, Good pictures


Zaporizhia nuclear power plant is occupied by Russian forces.

Workers at the occupied Zaporizhia nuclear power plant have told the BBC they work at gunpoint while Russian troops use the site as a military base.

Russian forces have occupied Europe’s largest nuclear power plant since early March. However, the facility is still operational Ukrainian technicians.

Moscow has recently been accused of using the plant ArmorHis forces launch rockets from there towards nearby locations.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres issued a fresh warning about fighting near the nuclear site after a new explosion was reported on Thursday.lead to disaster“.

Two workers told the BBC they were receiving kidnapping threats every day and they were scared.Radioactive contamination of the region in general” or a nuclear disaster.

There is a lookout point in the southern city of Nikopol. The Zaporizhia Nuclear Power Plant can be seen 16 kilometers from the water on the banks of the Dnipro River.

That is the affected area Heavy shelling In the last two weeks, 120 rockets were reported overnight.

They come from Enerhöder, the town where the plant is located.

In turn, Enerhodar and Power Plant are also covered Serious attacks.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) says there is a “real risk of nuclear catastrophe” if ceasefires and inspectors are not allowed access.

video title,

WATCH: Zaporizhia nuclear power plant on fire after shelling (3 Mar 22)

Dangerous work

Ukraine and Russia blame each other. The picture is bleak, though The risks are very clear.

“My workday is constant stress,” says Svitlana, who communicates with us via text message.

She and her colleague Mykola can now only use Russian SIM cards and the signal is very weak. We have not published their real names for security reasons.

“I can no longer work like before,” says Svitlana. “Last week I couldn’t even go to my workplace, it was Dangerous“.

“A nitrogen and oxygen station was bombed on Saturday, which resulted in the death of A fire. By some miracle the workers there survived.

image source, Reuters


Six furnaces of the Zaporizhia plant.

Another Enerhodar resident said prices in shops and pharmacies are now four times higher than in territory still controlled by Ukraine, and there is a shortage of doctors.

Most of the ATMs are also closed.

Psychological stress

Svitlana says she worked at the plant for many years projectiles They fell by her side every day.

“The psychological situation is difficult,” he adds. “Soldiers walk everywhere with guns In fact, we are all at gunpoint.”

About 500 soldiers are alleged to have been stationed in Russia. Recent footage has shown military vehicles inside, and there is no doubt that the Svitlana site is being used as a base.

“Every day they drive back and forth in their military vehicles,” he adds.

“They placed their military equipment in the station buildings, making it impossible for the Ukrainian armed forces to attack.”

A text comes from Mykola: “The staff is here now Hostages of the Russians“, he says.

“They turned off the internet, left only landlines, and only one dining room with food. They made the rest their bases.”

Abducted employees

Ukraine is concerned that Russia has begun bombing territory it occupies in a build-up effort Wrong story “Ukraine is attacking you, so you better vote to join Russia so we can root and protect you.”

Moscow-based politicians for the Zaporizhia region have signed a decree Referendum initial. Russia has staged fake votes in the past, including in Crimea, which it annexed in 2014.

Mykola continues: “Access to the roofs is forbidden, they set up their observation points there. The training building also became theirs. barracks“.

“Now, ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​more and more frequent​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​ increases more and more, employees coming home from work at the security gate are kidnapped.

It is not known why the kidnappings occur, but residents paint a picture Intimidation The Russians seek to lay down the law.

Svitlana and Mykola say that the Russians are leaving Trash All done.

They ensure that workers can still monitor the reactor properly.

Zaporizhia: How the Crisis Began

  • March 2022 – Shortly after the invasion of Ukraine begins, Russian troops seize the plant. Its management is now said to belong to the Russian state-owned nuclear company. Rostom. Ukrainian workers continue to operate the plant under Russian control.
  • July: Russian forces Position rocket launchers on campusConverting it into a military base.
  • August 3 – The International Atomic Energy Agency says the plant “Totally out of control“And in need of an inspection and repair.
  • August 5 – Ukraine’s nuclear power company Enerhoatom is hit by two rounds fired by a Russian rocket, prompting a shutdown of its operators. Electric generator.
  • August 8 – Ukraine reports damage to new Russian bomber Three radiation sensors and one worker was injured. Russian-backed local officials say Ukrainian forces attacked the base with multiple rocket launchers.
  • August 10 – Foreign ministers of the G7 countries say Russia must immediately hand over control of the plant to Ukraine.
  • August 11: More informed bombing plant, and Ukraine and Russia again blamed each other.

Hryhori Blachkov, former head of the State Inspectorate for Nuclear Energy Regulation of Ukraine, assures. The risks are “huge”. Until the Russians took control of the Zaporizhia power station.

If the Russians are their target, he admits, it will take “two or three” months to redirect power to their own grid.

Enerhodar is part of a southern front line seen A more intense fight In the past weeks.

Still, there is little movement to say that Europe’s largest nuclear power plant will continue to slip from Ukraine’s control.

* Additional reporting by Daria Sibykina and Hannah Sorens.

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