The Russia-controlled Zaporozhye nuclear power plant could come under attack by the Ukrainian forces on Friday, Moscow has warned.
The Russian Defence Ministry said on Thursday that Kyiv's plan is to launch an attack on the nuclear plant, whose safety has been a concern for the international community, and then blame Moscow for the disaster. The attack will take place at a time when UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres is visiting Ukraine, the ministry said, according to IANS.
Occupied Since March
Russia has occupied the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant since early March, after the Russian forces invaded Ukraine. Zaporozhye nuclear plant is the biggest nuclear power plant. Since the start of August, safety of the plant was a concern as both Russia and Ukraine blamed each other for the shelling targeting the site.
While Ukraine has been demanding that Russia cede the control of the site back to it, Nato has said Russia's seizure of the plant posed a dire threat to Ukraine and Europe.
"It is impossible to ensure the safety of the nuclear power plant while the Russian occupying forces are there," Ukraine's interior minister Denys Monastyrskyy told BBC.
Ukraine Troop Movements Detected
According to the Russian defense ministry, movements of Ukrainian troops have been detected at the plant, which indicates a 'looming provocation.' The Russians have claimed that Ukraine has positioned troops trained in responding to the use of weapons of mass destruction.
The ministry believes that Ukrainian artillery units could attack the plant on Friday. The attack would be launched from the city of Nikopol, the ministry said, according to Russia Today. "The blame for the consequences (of the strike) will be attributed to the Russian armed forces," the ministry said in a statement.
Meanwhile, Russia's Nuclear Biological and Chemical Defense Troops has also said it has modelled 'possible scenarios for a disaster at the Zaporozhye plant'.
On Tuesday, Russia said Ukrainians were behind the blowing up of high-voltage power lines used by one of its nuclear power plants located in a region bordering eastern Ukraine last week.
Attack on Kursk Nuclear Plant
Moscow said Ukrainian 'saboteurs' were behind the attack on power lines for the Kursk Nuclear Power Plant. The blasts took place on August 4, 9, and 12 and they caused the"disruption of the technological process of the nuclear power plant's functioning," Russia's Federal Security Service said.
The Russian accusation against Ukraine comes amid rising fears in the international community over the safety of the Zaporozhye nuclear plant in southern Ukraine. Moscow and Kyiv have blamed each other for the escalation in the region. The International Atomic Energy Agency has said the situation was "very alarming", adding that the worsening conflict could trigger a nuclear disaster.