The Kremlin has claimed there is ‘a great threat of sabotage’ at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station which ‘could be catastrophic in its consequences’.
Volodymyr Zelensky warned that Moscow’s troops may have placed explosives on the roof which could be blamed on Ukrainian shelling after being detonated.
But Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov hit back at the claims, saying measures were being taken to counter the threat posed to the plant by ‘the Kyiv regime’.
‘The situation is quite tense because there is indeed a great threat of sabotage by the Kyiv regime, which could be catastrophic in its consequences,’ he said.
‘The Kyiv regime has repeatedly demonstrated its willingness to do anything. Therefore, all measures are being taken to counter such a threat.’
He did not present evidence to back his assertions.
Russian troops took control of the Zaporizhzhia plant last year soon after embarking on what Vladimir Putin calls his ‘special military operation’ in Ukraine.
Each side has since regularly accused the other of shelling around the plant and of risking a major nuclear incident.
Last year, when a threat of an accident at the plant first arose, Ukraine established a crisis response headquarters.
Recently, emergency workers have been taking part in drills in preparation for a potential radiation leak.
Footage showed rescuers in yellow and white protective gear and gas masks, using dosimeters to check passenger cars and trucks for radiation levels and then cleaning wheels before vehicles underwent additional decontamination at specialised washing points. A man on a stretcher was brought into a medical tent as sirens blared.
According to the emergency services, in case of a nuclear disaster at the plant, approximately 300,000 people would be evacuated from the areas closest to the facility.
That covers four regions: Dnipropetrovsk, Kherson, Zaporizhzhia and Mykolaiv. The evacuation would be mandatory.
Those forced to flee will be allowed to bring their pets with them, according to the services. Buses, trains, and personal cars would be used for the evacuation from the affected zone.
A leaflet distributed online lists what to pack in case of an evacuation from a radiation zone.
The items recommended to pack include:
- Important documents and copies of them (e.g. ID, passport)
- Face mask or respirator
- A first-aid kit and a week’s supply of vital medicines
- Wet wipes
- A change of clothes and shoes
- A minimal supply of food and water, which must be in sealed packaging
It then adds: ‘Tightly wrap your suitcase or backpack with cling film or scotch tape. This will definitely ease the process of their deactivation at the sanitation units.’
Depending on the wind direction and the spread of radiation, people would be taken to safer areas within Ukraine.
‘There are different scenarios, but we are preparing for the most critical one,’ Yurii Vlasenko, the Ukranian deputy minister of energy said.
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