Europe is on the brink of a nuclear disaster as the largest nuclear power plant of the continent is facing an unprecedented military standoff between Russia and Ukraine.
Once again, the Zaporizhzhia nuclear complex was shelled at least five times on Thursday, including a site where uranium enriched radioactive material is stored. Both Russia and Ukraine have accused each other of orchestrating violence at the nuclear site.
If the situation gets out of control, the world is likely to see “catastrophic consequences,” as warned by United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. Guterres further added that the region is in dire need of stability which will only come when all the stakeholders reach an “urgent agreement” to demilitarize the nuclear site.
UN nuclear chief Rafael Grossi also told the UN Security Council to allow the nuclear experts to visit the Zaporizhzhia plant to evaluate the extent of the damage at the site.
Russia captured the nuclear power plant shortly after invading Ukraine, but Ukrainian staff are overseeing the daily operations of power generation at the power plant.
According to Russia’s UN ambassador Vassily Nebenzia, Ukraine is engineering “criminal attacks on nuclear infrastructure, (thus) pushing the world to the brink of nuclear catastrophe.”
While the nuclear radiations are under control at the moment, it is only a matter of time that the world sees a chronic nuclear disaster if Ukraine continues its attacks on the power plant, Nebenzia added.
However, Ukraine UN ambassador Sergiy Kyslytsya accused Russia of sabotaging the peace efforts at the vulnerable nuclear site. Kyslytsya suggested that more attacks on the nuclear power plant are not only dangerous for Ukraine but also for the whole world.
Another Chernobyl on its Way?
Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Voldymr Zelensky is demanding the complete withdrawal of the Russian forces from the nuclear plant in order to bring stability to the region. “Only a full withdrawal of the Russians and the restoration of full Ukrainian control of the situation around the station can guarantee a resumption of nuclear security for all of Europe,” Zelensky noted.
Reportedly, any disaster at Zaporizhzhia can trigger an emergency comparable to the Chernobyl accident of 1986. Back then, when Ukraine was part of the Soviet Union, malfunctioning at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant resulted in what is known as the largest nuclear power plant disaster in the known history of mankind.
This time, the inability of Russia and Ukraine to avert the nuclear disaster can even invite NATO to intervene in the region, which can be the beginning of a full-scale war.