RUSSIAN troops have been pictured massing at Europe’s biggest nuclear power plant, raising fears of a catastrophic Chernobyl-style meltdown.
Chilling satellite images capture Vlad’s soldiers and military vehicles just metres from the deadly nuclear reactors.
The Ministry of Defence has shared satellite images of Russian troops at ZaporizhzhiaCredit: Twitter
Europe’s largest nuclear plant has been in Russian hands since MarchCredit: AP
Russia is alleged to be storing military vehicles inside the nuclear power plantCredit: CNN
The pictures, shared by the UK’s Ministry of Defence, show Russian armoured personnel carriers and military cargo trucks just 60 metres from reactor five of the six-reactor nuke plant in Zaporizhzhia, southern Ukraine.
“On 21 August 2022, imagery indicated that Russia maintained an enhanced military presence at the [Zaporizhzhia] site, with armoured personnel carriers deployed within 60 metres of reactor number five,” the MoD said.
“Russian troops were probably attempting to conceal the vehicles by parking them under overhead pipes and gantries.”
It went on: “Russia is probably prepared to exploit any Ukrainian military activity near [Zaporizhzhia] for propaganda purposes.
“While Russia maintains the military occupation of [the plant], the principal risks to reactor operations are likely to remain disruption to the reactors’ cooling systems, damage to its backup power supply, or errors by workers operating under pressure.”
Zaporizhzhia has been in the hands of Russian soldiers since March, and reports claim Ukrainian troops are being tortured by agents from the Russian secret service the FSB to keep them from revealing to UN safety inspectors about risks at the site.
Inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) are set to be granted access to the plant in the coming days.
Russian state media TASS reports that “employees of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant were arrested for informing the Ukrainian Army of the location of Russian military equipment at the plant”.
But one engineer told The Telegraph that many of their colleagues had been arrested on their way to work by FSB agents.
“One of [the FSB’s] methods here is to take the control room workers to the basement,” he said, adding that secret police detain and torture the workers.
“Our management keeps silent about it, not to create panic, but people who return after those basement ‘conversations’ don’t say anything at all,” he added.
Just two days ago, a worker at the plant was reportedly killed by Russian forces after his taxi was shelled.
The mayor of Enerhodar, Dmytro Orlov, said that the attack took place on Monday, and named the dead man as 26-year-old Vladyslav Mitin, who worked as a locksmith at the thermal automation and measurement department.
Russia is probably prepared to exploit any Ukrainian military activity near [Zaporizhzhia] for propaganda purposes
Ministry of Defence
Ukraine accuses Russia of holding Zaporizhzhia to ransom, storing weapons there while launching deadly attacks.
It also warns that the workforce at the plant has been cut to dangerously low levels, while landmines have been placed around the cooling pond.
Earlier this month, workers at Zaporizhzhia were reportedly ordered to leave by Russian forces, sparking fears of a disaster.
Last week, footage emerged appearing to show at least five Russian military trucks parked inside a nuclear turbogenerator hall at the plant.
All of the trucks have distinctive Russian ‘Z’ war markings on their hoods and are painted camouflage green.
Fears are growing that Vlad’s forces will stage a “false flag” attack at the plant when IAEA inspectors visit which they will blame on Ukraine, in an insane game of brinksmanship with Kyiv.
On Thursday, Russian troops reportedly started deliberate forest fires in the woods near Zaporizhzhia, triggering power outages and cutting off water in the nearby city of Enerhodar, home to some 53,000 people.
The fires caused damage to nearby power lines, leaving the towns of Melitopol and Berdyansk without electricity.
Pro-Russian social media accounts have blamed the forest fires on Ukrainian forces, claiming their troops were using incendiary ammunition on the plant.
The plant in southern Ukraine has six nuclear reactorsCredit: Reuters
Radiation from a potential leak could spread across EuropeCredit: @myroslavapetsa / Twitter
It has raised fears of a Chernobyl-style nuclear disasterCredit: Getty – Contributor
Russian-backed authorities at the plant claim their security system was called into action following alleged Ukrainian shelling.
Vladimir Rogov, head of the pro-Kremlin puppet regime in the region, has insisted that the power outage didn’t affect Zaporizhzhia.
It follows fears of a Chernobyl-style nuclear disaster at the plant, which could spread radioactive fallout across Europe.
The Chernobyl disaster in 1986 is the worst-ever radioactive spill.
It took place in what was then the Soviet Union but is modern-day Ukraine, and caused deadly radiation to fall across Europe.
Although the direct death toll from the disaster quoted by the Soviets was just 31, it is believed to have triggered higher-than-average rates of cancers in the surrounding area in the years since.
A 2,600 km² exclusion zone remains in place around the plant, including the abandoned town of Pripyat which was built for workers at Chernobyl.
The head of Energoatom, the Ukrainian atomic energy company, has warned that Russia is planning on disconnecting Zaporizhzhia from Ukraine’s power grid, in a move that would risk a catastrophic failure in the plant’s cooling systems.
Russian engineers’ have produced detailed plans to cut off the plant and connect it to the Russian network instead, Petro Kotin said.
He added that he fears Putin’s men are targeting the plant’s power lines connecting it to Ukraine’s grid to complete the takeover, The Guardian reports.
“You cannot just switch from one system to another immediately, you have to shut down everything on one side, and then you start to switch on another side,” he told The Guardian.
He added: “During this disconnection, the plant won’t be connected to any power supply and that is the reason for the danger. If you fail to provide cooling… for one hour and a half, then you will have melting already.”
Kotin warned of the dangers if any Russian military equipment at the plant blew up and triggered a fire.
“This situation is very dangerous not only for the plant [and] for Ukraine but also for the whole world because you never can say what the weather would be like and what the wind direction [would be],” he said.
Russian troops continue to be bogged down in a war of attrition in Ukraine, with no serious territorial gains made in months.
On Thursday, President Putin announced the planned expansion of the Russian Armed Forces to more than one million with the addition of 137,000 new servicemembers.
This comes as the Russian death toll in the war in Ukraine has crept up towards 50,000 with the passing of the six-month anniversary of the conflict.
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