Russian defence minister Sergei Shoigu today warned of ‘nuclear catastrophe’ in the war in Ukraine.
He spoke out amid Western fears that Russia is planning a false flag operation blaming Ukraine for a nuclear leak which could trigger radioactive pollution across Europe.
‘There is an alarming situation developing around the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant,’ said Vladimir Putin’s defence minister.
‘Kyiv is subjecting it to regular shelling from heavy weapons.
‘The actions by the Ukrainian armed forces could trigger a nuclear catastrophe.’
Kyiv has repeatedly denied military action threatening the safety of Russian-held Zaporizhzhia.
Shoigu’s claims that Ukraine is shelling the power plant come just days after Russian missile strikes destroyed a hotel and residential block in the city, killing several civilians.
A Russian service member stands guard at a checkpoint near the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant outside Enerhodar in the Zaporizhzhia region, Russian-controlled Ukraine, June 2023
A general view of the Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine
Russian defence minister Sergei Shoigu claimed Ukraine is shelling its own nuclear power plant
Sergei Shoigu, Russian defence minister, speaks at the 11th Moscow Conference on International Security
In his remarks to Russian media, Shoigu alleged Moscow was keeping track of incidents at the Zaporizhzhia power plant and reported them daily to the UN and the International Committee of the Red Cross.
‘There is no reaction, unfortunately,’ he said.
He also went on to claim that Russia had not so far used cluster munitions in Ukraine – despite considerable evidence to the contrary – and accused the US of a war crime by supplying these weapons to Kyiv.
‘I would like to point out that we also have cluster munitions,’ he said. ‘So far, we have been refraining from using them for humanitarian reasons.
‘However, this decision may be reconsidered.’
Shoigu was speaking at the 11th Moscow Conference on International Security which was attended by Chinese Defence Minister Li Shangfu.
His words follow a stark warning from Polish President Andrzej Duda that Russia is plotting ‘nuclear accidents’ in occupied Ukraine.
Duda said: ‘I think that Russia will not resort to using nuclear weapons in Ukraine.
‘If someone were to ask me about the nuclear threat, I am much more concerned about potential problems with the nuclear power plants in Ukraine.’
Shoigu’s comments about Ukrainian shelling of Zaporizhzhia come just days after his own military launched rockets on a hotel and apartment block in the city.
Shocking footage showed the moment terrified children screamed as the rockets – identified by national police as Russian Iskander missiles – soared overhead and slammed into the Reikartz Hotel in the city centre just a few hundred yards away. on Thursday.
Shocking footage showed the moment terrified children screamed as the rockets – identified by national police as Russian Iskander missiles – soared overhead and slammed into the Reikartz Hotel in the city centre
Reikartz was a popular spot for journalists and aid workers, and was used by United Nations staff on humanitarian missions, according to coordinator Denise Brown
Children were heard screaming after the Russian missile slammed into the hotel, exploding in a huge ball of flame
Women and children begin running from the scene of the missile strike
The hotel is seen in the aftermath of the strike surrounded by craters and the twisted wreckage of cars
The hotel is seen erupting in a bright yellow fireball as the second missile hit in the heart-pounding clip, while pictures shared by officials in the aftermath of the strike showed a big crater and wrecked cars around the badly damaged building.
Reikartz was a popular spot for journalists and aid workers, and was used by United Nations staff on humanitarian missions, according to coordinator Denise Brown.
‘I am appalled by the news that a hotel frequently used by United Nations personnel and our colleagues from NGOs supporting people affected by the war has been hit by a Russian strike in Zaporizhzhia shortly ago,’ she said. ‘I have stayed in this hotel every single time I visited Zaporizhzhia.’
It was the second strike on Zaporizhzhia in as many days – two young women and a man were killed and nine other people were wounded by Moscow’s missiles on Wednesday.
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