Russia Seized Ukraine's Largest Nuclear Plant In A 'Reckless' Attack That Caused A Fire

"The world narrowly averted a nuclear catastrophe," a US official said.

Global Editorial Fellow
Russian forces attacking Zaporizhzhia Power Plant in Ukraine.

Russian forces attacking Zaporizhzhia Power Plant in Ukraine.

Russian forces have occupied another nuclear plant in Ukraine, after a risky battle that caused a fire at the sensitive site.

The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, in the southern half of the country, is the largest nuclear power plant in Europe, and the Friday morning fight triggered a bunch of warnings about potential disaster.

"Fire has already broke out," Ukraine's foreign minister tweeted during the fight. "If it blows up, it will be 10 times larger than Chornobyl!"

It didn't blow up, and the Russians managed to capture it without releasing any radioactive material, the International Atomic Energy Agency later tweeted.

But that doesn't mean it's safe to keep firing guns around a nuclear plant, as IAEA and U.S. officials told the United Nations on Friday.

"By the grace of God, the world narrowly averted a nuclear catastrophe," U.S. representative Linda Thomas-Greenfield told the UN Security Council on Friday. She also described it as a "reckless" and "dangerous" attack.

"We all waited to exhale as we watched the horrific situation unfold in real time."

Zaporizhzhia is the second nuclear plant that Russia has seized since it launched its invasion last week. The first one was Chernobyl, and there were similar fears that the gunfire and artillery shells could cause a nuclear disaster.

The Zaporizhzhia plant's YouTube channel live-streamed the latest attack for four hours, showing exactly what Russian forces were doing to the power plant.

The video clearly shows a ton of military vehicles on the road around the plant. Throughout, you can see shots being fired at the buildings, and a fire seems to break out partway through in the facility. Eventually the video goes dead.

The International Atomic Energy Agency later confirmed the Russian takeover, and said that the safety systems on all six reactors "had not been affected."

No radiation leaks have been detected and the plant was safely shut down, according to U.S. officials.

Zaporizhzhia houses six out of the 15 total nuclear reactors in Ukraine, according to the World Nuclear Association.

The UN Security Council held an emergency meeting because of the attack, per CNBC.

Ukraine has a few other nuclear power plants that haven't fallen into Russian hands.

That means this might not be the last time we see a warning like this from Ukraine.

Andrew Mrozowski
Global Editorial Fellow
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