This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has responded to officials’ accusations that Russian troops shelled another nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine overnight by saying the world must “stop [Russia] before it’s too late.”
He said via Telegram on September 19 that “a rocket fell 300 meters from” the South Ukraine (Pivdennoukrayinsk) Nuclear Power Plant in the war-torn Mykolayiv region and “there was a short-term power outage.”
Zelenskiy said windows at the complex were damaged and suggested “the invaders wanted to shoot again but forgot what a nuclear power plant was.”
“Russia endangers the whole world,” Zelenskiy said. “We have to stop it before it’s too late.”
Earlier in the day, Ukraine’s state nuclear operator, Enerhoatom, accused Russian troops of striking the Pivdennoukrayinsk plant and said there was no damage to any of its three reactors. The facility is working normally, Enerhoatom added early on September 19.
The United Nations’ nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), did not immediately comment on the attack.
Another Ukrainian nuclear plant, at Zaporizhzhya, about 250 kilometers farther east, that was occupied by Russian forces in March has been the object of intense concern and urgent international demands for a demilitarized zone and return to Ukrainian control.
Ukrainian officials on September 18 accused Russian troops of pounding civilian infrastructure with artillery including in the city of Zaporizhzhya in which that bigger plant is located.
Electricity was reportedly restored over the weekend to the Zaporizhzhya plant to help allay fears of a catastrophic disaster there.
But the IAEA said on September 19 that a power line used to supply the plant was disconnected, leaving it without backup power from the grid.
RFE/RL cannot independently verify battlefield claims in areas of the most intense fighting.
Zelenskiy and some Western leaders have accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of waging “nuclear terrorism” and “nuclear blackmail” since ordering the full-scale invasion in February and snatching Ukrainian nuclear facilities, in addition to hinting at a possible nuclear response if the conflict in Ukraine threatens Russia broadly.
A Telegram post by Enerhoatom condemning the Pivdennoukrayinsk blast quoted Energy Minister Herman Halushchenko and included a video of a bright light and blast, seemingly narrowly missing a building at the facility.
“In desperation, Russia is putting the world on the brink of a nuclear disaster,” it quoted Halushchenko as saying.
Russia has routinely blamed Ukrainian forces for shelling near Zaporizhzhya that Kyiv has said were Russian artillery or rockets.