The Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Station in southern Ukraine is the largest nuclear power plant in Europe. And it’s also been seized by Russian forces.
This past week, Petro Kotin, President of Ukraine’s nuclear energy agency Energoatom, confirmed that Russian soldiers have been using the Zaporizhzhia plant to store weapons and launch missile attacks on the Ukrainian people.
Not only is it devastating for the Russian forces to be occupying a point of such physical and symbolic power in Ukraine, they are effectively untouchable in the plant: any counter attack aimed back at Zaporizhzhia would risk damage to the reactors and potential nuclear fallout.
The denial of energy to areas under invasion isn’t new: prior to Russian invasion, Ukraine derived half its power from nuclear energy, half of that supply came from the Zaporizhzhia plant.
Early on in their unwarranted invasion, Russia occupied Chernobyl, the site of the infamous nuclear disaster in 1986. “Regarding reports earlier today of higher radiation measurements at the Chernobyl site,” the International Atomic Energy Agency said in a February 25 release, “Ukraine’s regulatory authority said that they may have been caused by heavy military vehicles stirring up soil still contaminated from the 1986 accident.”
Zaporizhzhia sits at a pivotal point in between Crimea and the Donetsk and Luhansk “republics.” The plant is also located on the banks of the Dnieper River, and any nuclear spillage has the potential to cause environmental harm to the river, and any nearby people and ecosystems relying on the water source.
Sovereign land, energy sources, food supply, innocent people, the environment itself: is there anything Putin’s unfounded war doesn’t touch and spoil? The answer is spelled out clearly everyday: no.