Putin 'could blow up largest nuclear plant in Europe' sparking fears for world safety

Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant

Ukraine warns Russia may target Europe's largest nuclear power plant

Paige Creaney

By Paige Creaney

Published: 07/06/2023

- 16:29

The nuclear power plant has been under Russian control since the start of the war

Russia could be plotting to blow up the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant after explosions at a major dam and hydroelectric plant caused mass flooding and sparked an ecological disaster.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky accused Russia of detonating an “environmental bomb of mass destruction" at the Nova Kakhovka dam in Kherson, resulting in "catastrophic” flooding throughout the region.

"The destruction of one of the largest water reservoirs in Ukraine is absolutely deliberate,” Zelensky said.

“Hundreds of thousands of people have been left without normal access to drinking water.”

Guard stands outside the nuclear power plant

The Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant has been under Russian control since the start of the war


Ukraine’s top security official Oleksiy Danilov said the dam blast was “a fundamentally new stage of Russian aggression” and warned that the nearby nuclear power plant in Zaporizhzhia could be Putin’s next target.

The nuclear power plant has been under Russian control since the start of the war, and is reliant on water from the dam to cool its reactors.

The plant has been shelled repeatedly throughout the war, sparking fears of a nuclear meltdown last year when rockets hit one of the plant’s reactors, which both Ukraine and Russia claimed the other was responsible for.

Russian forces have been accused of converting the station into a military base and are "sufficiently protected" from being re-captured by force, pro-Kremlin media reports.

The dam's reservoir provides water used for the essential cooling of the six reactors at Europe's biggest nuclear power plant, and is set to displace tens of thousands of people.

Dramatic scenes from throughout Kherson saw entire homes swept away by the dam blast, while in some communities people were forced to spend the night on the roof of their homes to avoid getting swept away.

The cause of the blasts is not yet clear, although Ukraine warned late last year that Russian forces had mined the dam as they retreated from Kherson.

At an emergency security council meeting yesterday, President Zelensky blamed the breach on “Russian terrorists” saying it underlined the need for Ukraine to liberate all its territory from its neighbour’s occupation.

The President condemned the incident as the “largest human-made environmental disaster in Europe in decades.”

However, Russia has accused Kyiv of blowing up the dam themselves to distract from what they perceive to be a failing Ukrainian counteroffensive, using shells to breach the dam walls.

Woman trudges through flooding in

Tens of thousands of people are set to be displaced by the floods


Britain's Ministry of Defense, which has regularly issued updates about the war, said the Kakhovka reservoir was at “record high” water levels before the breach.

While the dam wasn't entirely washed away, the ministry warned that its structure “is likely to deteriorate further over the next few days, causing additional flooding.”

Kyiv said 150 tonnes of engine oil had spilled into the river, and the agricultural ministry said about 10 thousand hectares of farmland on the right bank of the river would be flooded and “several times more” on the left bank.

Rishi Sunak said it was too soon to make a “definitive judgement” that Moscow’s forces were responsible.

You may like