Video shows Russian military vehicles inside sensitive Ukrainian nuclear power plant building
Video footage has emerged online that almost conclusively shows Russian military trucks parked inside a turbine hall at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in southwestern Ukraine. It comes as Russian and Ukrainian officials today accuse each other of preparing to stage some kind of provocation at the facility tomorrow. For weeks, fears have been growing over the possibility of a nuclear disaster in Zaporizhzhia, which the Russians have turned into a forward operating base and fire support, which could have wider impacts across Europe .
The video in question is undated and, given the often low and awkward angles at which it was shot, it appears to have been taken surreptitiously. Around the 0:25 mark in the 40-second clip, seen in the @intelcrab Tweet below, at least five trucks with large “Z” markings are visible, along with what may be stacks of crates. Z is one of many letters and other markings that Russian units painted on their vehicles to help them quickly identify themselves on the battlefield, and which have now become broader symbols of the country’s war support against Ukraine. There has been speculation that the exposed crates next to the trucks could be filled with ammunition, among other military supplies, but there’s no way to tell from the footage.
Experts and observers have pointed to a number of key details elsewhere in the video that almost beyond doubt prove that it was taken inside one of Zaporizhzhia’s turbine halls. The elongated warehouse-like buildings house the turbines that convert steam generated by adjacent reactors into electricity. Zaporizhzhia, which is the largest nuclear power plant in Europe and one of the ten largest such facilities in the world, has six separate reactors with their own associated turbine halls.
The video would fit with reports, based on recent satellite images and other images from Zaporizhzhia, which indicated that the turbine halls and other buildings at the plant are or at least have been used at times to store vehicles and other materials. Ukrainian officials, along with their American counterparts, claim that the Russian military uses the site as a firing base for artillery strikes on targets in the vicinity and as a general base for forward operations, while exploiting the “shield nuclear”. he offers counter-attacks. For its part, the Russian military says it has only a small contingent to provide basic security, despite clear evidence to the contrary.
This new video evidence that the Russians are storing vehicles, and potentially munitions or other hazardous materials, inside at least one building next to one of Zaporizhzhia’s reactors can only underscore concerns about risks associated with continued plant occupancy. For weeks, Russian and Ukrainian officials have accused each other of bombing and otherwise attacking the plant and surrounding areas. Last month, there was at least one very limited and precise Ukrainian attack on Russian personnel at the site, which was carried out using a Polish-made Warmate roving munition, or “suicide drone”.
On top of all this, earlier today the Russian Ministry of Defense accused the Ukrainian government to plan, with its American “handlers”, an operation to manufacture a “minor accident” likely to cause a radioactive leak.
Ukrainian authorities have denied the accusations and countered by saying that it appears the Russians are about to stage some sort of false flag incident. Ukrainian intelligence agents further alleged that the Russian state nuclear company, Rosatom, which has representatives in Zaporizhzhia, told them, and potentially other workers at the plant, not to come tomorrow without any apparent explanation.
The Russian government, as well as pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine, certainly have a history of provocations, including a number of fabricated incidents in view of the total invasion of the country at the beginning of this year. Completely baseless Russian claims that the Ukrainian government, in conjunction with the United States, planned to launch chemical or biological weapon attacks persisted even after the invasion began, raising concerns about false flags that could have served as a pretext for the Kremlin to authorize reprisals in kind.
Ukrainian authorities themselves warned earlier this year that the Russians may have considered staging some sort of incident at the now defunct Chernobyl nuclear power plant, the site of the worst nuclear disaster in this day. Russian forces left the Chernobyl site and its surroundings in April as part of wider withdrawals in northeastern Ukraine.
Fortunately, none of these other allegedly planned incidents happened. Whether or not something happens tomorrow, or in the near future, in Zaporizhzhia remains to be seen.
The Russian Defense Ministry said today that a major disaster in Zaporizhzhia could cause potentially dangerous amounts of radiation to spread to Germany. Ukrainian authorities have said separately that countries as far north as Estonia and west as the Czech Republic could be affected.
Ukraine’s Emergencies Ministry yesterday held a nuclear incident drill in the present-day town of Zaporizhzhia, located about 35 miles northeast on the opposite bank of the Dnieper, in light of growing concerns over the situation at the plant. nuclear .
There could of course be other explanations for the new Russian allegations and the surprise “day off” for at least some Zaporizhzhia workers. On the one hand, the Russian authorities have now threatened close the factory entirely, apparently due to damage caused by alleged Ukrainian attacks and other security issues, which could have a significant impact on the availability of electricity in the country.
In addition, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has been seeking access to the plant for some time to carry out an independent assessment of the situation at the site. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said today that he had reached an agreement with UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, currently visiting the country, on the parameters for future visits by the IAEA. Ukrainian authorities have opposed previous Russian unilateral offers to facilitate IAEA travel to Zaporizhzhia. With the possibility that the first of such UN-sponsored visits is now imminent, the Russian military may seek to move its forces or conceal its presence at the plant.
“Special attention was paid to the subject of Russian nuclear blackmail at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant [Nuclear Power Plant]“, wrote Zelensky in a message on the social network Telegram after meeting with Guterres. “This deliberate terror on the part of the aggressor can have global catastrophic consequences for the whole world.”
Zelensky also warned today that the situation in Zaporizhzhia could turn into “another Chernobyl”.
The Russian government has so far resisted calls from the Ukrainian government, the United Nations and the European Union, among others, to withdraw from the site altogether. As long as Russian forces continue to occupy it, there will continue to be at least a risk of potential nuclear disaster due to the ongoing fighting in the country.
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