Ukraine and Russia accuse each other of attacks on the nuclear complex

Ukraine and Russia accuse each other of attacks on the nuclear complex

Russia and Ukraine have accused each other of attacking Europe's largest nuclear power plant in Zaporizhzhia, as international alarm grows over weekend shelling at the nuclear complex.

The head of the United Nations called for UN nuclear inspectors to be allowed access to the plant.

"Any attack on a nuclear power plant is suicide," UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told a news conference in Japan, where he attended the Hiroshima Memorial Ceremony to mark the 77th anniversary of the world's first atomic bombing.

Kiev warned of the risk of a Chernobyl-style catastrophe and called for a demilitarized zone around the complex. Russia said grenade strikes by Ukrainian forces caused a surge in tension and flames, forcing personnel to cut output from two reactors, while Ukraine blamed Russian troops for harboring weapons at the complex.

Nuclear experts warn of grave danger if grenades continue to be thrown at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station, which was seized by Russia at the start of the war.

The Kremlin echoed this statement, claiming that the Ukrainian strikes could create "catastrophic" consequences for Europe.

Rafael Grossi, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, warned that the ongoing fighting around the power plant poses a serious threat to health and the environment.

Ukraine's ambassador to the Atomic Energy Agency, Yevhenii Tsymbaliuk, said on Monday that personnel at Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia nuclear complex "are working under the threat of Russian weapons" and called for an international mission to the plant this month.

He added that Russian forces want to cause blackouts in southern Ukraine by bombing the Zaporizhzhia complex, adding that damage to the facility from Russian strikes means the radiation cannot be contained.

A spokesman for the National Security Council told VOA that the United States continues to closely monitor the situation at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.

He said the US calls on Russia to cease all military operations at or near Ukraine's nuclear facilities and return full control to Ukraine.