The reported artillery strike comes hours after UN chief warned against such “suicide” attacks
Ukrainian forces once again targeted Energodar with artillery on Thursday night, according to Vladimir Rogov, a member of the local administration who claimed at least seven shells hit the Russian-controlled city that hosts the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant, the largest such facility in Europe.
Heavy artillery fire targeted the city around 10:50pm local time, said Rogov, a member of the Russian military-civilian administration in Ukraine’s Zaporozhye Region, on his Telegram channel.
The Zaporozhye NPP suffered no damage in the strike, local authorities later told Russian media. There were also no immediate reports of any casualties or damage to civilian infrastructure.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres voiced concern about the situation around the nuclear facility earlier on Thursday, during his meeting with Ukrainian leader Vladimir Zelensky and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Lviv.
While he stopped short of blaming either side, Guterres has once again called to demilitarize the area, insisting that an agreement was “urgently needed” to establish Zaporozhye as a “purely civilian infrastructure” to ensure the plant’s safety.
“Common sense must prevail to avoid any actions that might endanger the physical integrity, safety or security of the nuclear plant,” the UN chief said, adding that the facility “must not be used as part of any military operation” and that any damage to the plant would be “suicide.”
Moscow has repeatedly called for an International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) mission to the plant, which Guterres said could only happen with Kiev’s approval. Zelensky reiterated on Thursday that any such mission can only take place via Kiev-controlled territory, while calling for an “immediate and unconditional withdrawal” of Russian forces from the area.
Russian Foreign Ministry deputy spokesman Ivan Nechayev ruled out demilitarizing the area around the facility, calling it “unacceptable” and citing “provocations” from Kiev’s forces. Removing Russian troops from the NPP would make it more vulnerable to Ukrainian armed groups, Nechayev said.
The Russian Defense Ministry also warned on Thursday morning that Ukraine might carry out artillery strikes on the Zaporozhye NPP amid the visit by Guterres and Erdogan – and then accuse Moscow of causing a disaster at the site. Ukraine’s military intelligence responded by saying that Russian forces might stage a nuclear “provocation” in the territory they control.
Russian troops took control of the Zaporozhye NPP early on in the course of military operations in Ukraine. The Russian Defense Ministry denies deploying any heavy weapons at the nuclear site, insisting that only Russian troops at the facility are lightly armed guards providing physical security against “provocations.”
Moscow has repeatedly accused Kiev of conducting frequent drone and artillery strikes against the nuclear plant and the city of Energodar since mid-July. Kiev has denied responsibility and said Russian forces were attacking the plant to discredit Ukraine, while also claiming that Russia is using the facility as a military base.