The head of Ukrainian military intelligence, Kyrylo Budanov, warned that Russia had completed preparations for a terrorist attack on the territory of the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant
Russia has completed preparations for the destruction of the Zaporozhian nuclear power plant, warned General Kyrylo Budanov, head of Ukraine's military intelligence (HUR), in an interview with the British weekly “The New Statesman”.
According to Budanov, the power plant's cooling tank was mined by Russian troops. Without cooling, nuclear reactors could melt down in 10 hours to 14 days. He believes that Russia would be able to increase the voltage in the power lines feeding the plant, leading to a nuclear accident at the lower end of this time frame.
As he put it, “technical means could be used to hasten the catastrophe.”
HUR was able to determine that Russian troops had moved vehicles loaded with explosives to four of the six power units. It is unclear whether the International Atomic Energy Agency was granted access to these blocks during its June 15 visit.
On Thursday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, citing information from HUR, warned that an attack on the Zaporozhian nuclear power plant could take place at any moment. The prospect of a deliberately provoked accident has been raised before, but Budanov believes it's different this time. “The situation has never been as serious as it is now,” he said.
Asked if the decision to blow up the plant had already been made, the general replied that he was confident that the plan was fully “developed and approved”, with the only missing element being the order to carry it out.
“Then it can happen in a matter of minutes,” he said.
The head of the HUR explained that whether the order will be issued depends on how Russia perceives the potential benefits of a nuclear disaster in southern Ukraine, and there are two possibilities. The first would be to blow up the power plant if Russian forces are forced out of the left bank of the Dnieper. Destroying the plant would create a contamination zone, which would prevent Ukraine from moving forward.
The second possibility is that Russia would use a nuclear catastrophe as what Budanov called a “precautionary measure.” The goal in this case would be to stop Ukraine's offensive before it starts and freeze the front line in its current location.
If Russia believed it could not stop the Ukrainian advance in any other way, it would activate what Zelensky called a “radiation leaked terrorist attack” in his speech.
“The nuclear safety situation at the Zaporozhye power plant is extremely unstable. The loss of the Kakhovka reservoir was a disaster for the region, and also exacerbated the serious difficulties (reactor cooling – ed.) of this large nuclear power plant. Now more than ever, all parties must fully comply with basic safety rules IAEA's goal is to prevent nuclear disasters. We are strengthening our efforts to help ensure the nuclear safety and physical safety of people, as well as providing assistance to the affected region in other ways,” said Rafael Grossi, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), in a statement published on the IAEA website.
In addition to mines and problems with cooling the reactors (there are 6 of them with a total capacity of 6 GW), there is one more threat that the IAEA draws attention to. This is the power plant's dependence on the only currently operating 750 kV transmission line, which supplies the electricity needed for reactor cooling and other nuclear safety functions.
Independent nuclear energy and nuclear safety expert Olha Koszarna told the news agency Unian that due to the lack of sufficient water, the station will not produce electricity for a long time.
Ukrainian experts believe that the actions of the Russians are an expression of their desperation.
The threat of a catastrophe similar to Chernobyl is to convince Europe to increase pressure on Ukraine to start peace talks with the Russian aggressor.