He had warned that spies received intelligence suggesting Moscow was preparing to carry out a ‘terrorist’ attack at the occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.
The Kremlin dismissed the allegation as ‘another lie’, and said a team of UN nuclear inspectors had visited the plant and rated everything highly.
In his nightly address, Zelensky called on other nations to ‘exert pressure’ on Moscow, adding: ‘Our principle is simple – the whole world must know what the occupier is preparing.
‘Everyone who knows must act. The world has enough power to prevent any radiation incidents, let alone a radiation catastrophe.’
The warning prompted Ukraine’s health ministry to urge people not to panic after sales of iodine tablets skyrocketed.
It said: ‘Read and share but don’t panic! Don’t play the enemy’s game. President Zelensky said nothing new.
‘Russia is a terrorist country from which, like a monkey with a grenade, you can expect anything.’
The spectre of a potentially deadly radiation leak has loomed since Russian troops seized control of the facility – Europe’s largest nuclear station – last year.
The head of the UN’s atomic energy agency spent months unsuccessfully trying to negotiate for a safety perimeter to protect the facility as nearby areas came under repeated shelling.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) noted on Thursday that the ‘the military situation has become increasingly tense’ while a Ukrainian counter-offensive that got under way this month unfolds in the province of Zaporizhzhia, where the namesake plant is located, and in an adjacent part of Donetsk.
On Friday, IAEA director general Rafael Grossi met the director of Russian state nuclear corporation Rosatom to discuss the conditions at the plant.
Rosatom director Alexey Likachev and other officials at the meeting ‘emphasised that they now expect specific steps’ from the UN agency to prevent Ukrainian attacks on the plant and its adjacent territory, said a statement from the Russian corporation, whose divisions build and operate nuclear power plants.
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