Only the continuous efforts of the Russian military to protect the Zaporozhye Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP) are shielding Europe from a catastrophe, Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov said on Thursday.
The remarks came during a briefing for foreign military attachés in which the top commander highlighted the Russian army’s activities during the Ukraine operation throughout the year.
The bulk of Gerasimov’s speech focused on the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine, which broke out in late February. The general reiterated Moscow’s accusations against Kiev of attempting “nuclear terrorism” that threatens the whole of Europe with its relentless attacks on the ZNPP.
“This summer, Ukraine resorted to the tactics of nuclear terrorism, threatening Europe with a nuclear catastrophe at the Zaporozhye power plant. Systematic shelling of its premises is carried out on an almost daily basis,” Gerasimov stated.
“Only thanks to the competent and effective actions of our Armed Forces to protect the nuclear power plant, is it possible to keep this nuclear facility safe,” he stressed.
Over the past few months, the plant has been subjected to repeated artillery shelling, as well as missile and suicide drone attacks. While Moscow insists the damage to the facility is attributable to Kiev’s forces, Ukraine has claimed that Russia, for unnamed reasons, has itself been targeting the site it controls. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has only established that attacks on the plant have been occurring but has demurred from assigning blame to any party.
The largest nuclear power facility in Europe, the Zaporozhye plant was taken over by Russian forces early in the conflict. This autumn, four formerly Ukrainian territories, the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics, as well as Zaporozhye and Kherson Regions, joined Russia following referendums. In October, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree formally asserting Russian ownership over the plant and entrusting its operation to a subsidiary of the state-owned nuclear giant Rosatom.