Russian attack threatens to send radioactive cloud over Europe

Ukraine: Explosions and air raid sirens sound in Melitopol

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The United Nations has even been urged to deploy peacekeepers to the plant in Zaporizhzhia to ensure a Chernobyl-style disaster is not repeated.

President Volodymyr Zelensky has warned a cloud of “radioactive contamination” could spread over Europe without intervention to stop Putin.

Moscow’s forces have been barraging the area in Russian-occupied southern Ukraine on the Dnieper river as Ukrainian troops fight to reclaim it.

Both sides have blamed the other for the bitter fighting, reported The Telegraph.

The Ukrainian state-run nuclear power company raised the alarm that radiation sensors had been damaged in the attacks.

On Monday Russia’s defence ministry claimed Kyiv had damaged high-voltage power lines into the plant.

As a consequence, output had to be reduced from two of its six reactors to “prevent disruption”.

President Zelensky said in his address to the nation on Sunday: “There is no such nation in the world that can feel safe when a terrorist state fires at a nuclear plant.

“God forbid, if something irreparable happens, no one will stop the wind that will spread the radioactive contamination.”

He has also called for Western sanctions to be extended to cover Russian nuclear energy and uranium exports to tackle “the threat that Russia created by striking at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant”.

The European Union and other nations have introduced sanctions against the Russian oil and gas industry, but have not yet applied the same measures to its nuclear power.

Russian officials at the plant have claimed it is working normally amid concerns they have forced Ukrainian technicians to keep it running in potentially unsafe conditions.

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UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has called for an end to the “suicidal” military operations around Zaporizhzhia.

Head of Ukraine’s nuclear state power firm Energoatom Petro Kotin has proposed a Western-backed “demilitarised zone” around the power plant.

He said: “ The decision that we demand from the world community and all our partners … is to withdraw the invaders from the territory of the station and create a demilitarised zone on the territory of the station.

“The presence of peacekeepers in this zone and the transfer of control of it to them, and then also control of the station to the Ukrainian side would resolve this problem.”

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