Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky on Monday called for tougher sanctions in response to what he described as Russia’s “nuclear blackmail” around the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.
“Provocative shelling of the territory of the plant continues. Under cover of the plant, the invaders are shelling nearby towns and communities. The Russian military hides munitions and equipment at the facilities of the plant. The station is de facto mined,” Zelensky said during his evening video address.
“It is necessary to move from discussions and calls to new tough sanctions against Russia, against ‘Rosatom’ and the entire nuclear industry of the terrorist state. All Russian forces must immediately withdraw from the territory of the station and neighboring areas without any conditions.”
Zelensky claimed that Russia “ignores” the security demands of the EU and 42 countries that have called on it to withdraw its forces from the station.
“Any radiation incident at the Zaporizhzhia NPP can be a blow to the countries of the European Union, and to Turkey, and to Georgia, and to countries from more distant regions. Everything depends on the direction and strength of the wind. If a catastrophe occurs due to Russia’s actions, the consequences can hit even those who remain silent for the time being,” Zelensky said.
“And if now the world lacks the strength and determination to protect one nuclear plant, it means that the world will lose. Lose to terrorists. Yield to nuclear blackmail.”
Some context: Kyiv has repeatedly accused Russian forces, which seized the plant in March, of storing heavy weaponry inside the complex and using it as cover to launch attacks, knowing that Ukraine can’t return fire without risking hitting one of the plant’s six reactors — a mistake that would spell disaster. Moscow, meanwhile, has claimed Ukrainian troops are targeting the site. Both sides have tried to point the finger at the other for threatening nuclear terrorism.