Ukrainian officials said Russian shelling caused a fire at a nuclear power plant in Ukraine, prompting concern from the international community about a nuclear disaster and renewed fears about Moscow’s tactics as it continues its advance in the country.
In Kyiv, officials told the International Atomic Energy Agency that the fire that broke out at the facility didn’t affect essential equipment, the agency said, lessening initial concerns that the shelling damaged a reactor. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a video posted on social media that Russia’s actions show that “Europe needs to wake up.”
“Only immediate action can stop the Russian troops. Do not let Europe die in the nuclear catastrophe,” he said, according to a translation posted online by Ukraine’s U.S. embassy, accusing Russia of “nuclear terror.”
Mr. Zelensky spoke with President Biden about the incident at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, the largest nuclear power plant in Europe. Following the call, which occurred late Thursday night Washington time, Mr. Biden urged Russia to “cease its military activities in the area and allow firefighters and emergency responders to access the site,” according to the White House.
U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm wrote on Twitter that she had spoken with Ukraine’s energy minister, adding that the plant’s reactors are “being safely shut down.” She added, “We have seen no elevated radiation readings near the facility.”
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson told Mr. Zelensky in a telephone call early on Friday that the U.K. would be seeking an emergency United Nations Security Council meeting to address the shelling of the plant, Mr. Johnson’s office said in a statement.
Earlier this week, the IAEA expressed concern about the safety of Ukraine’s nuclear plants, noting that Russian military forces were advancing on the Zaporizhzhia facility. The plant is located near the city of Enerhodar in southeastern Ukraine.
The fire at the nuclear power plant comes after Moscow deepened its military offensive in southern Ukraine, penetrating the city of Kherson and pushing toward Zaporizhya, as Russian and Ukrainian negotiators agreed to establish “humanitarian corridors” to allow civilians to leave besieged cities.
The plant is located near the city of Enerhodar in the southeastern part of Ukraine.