Ukraine ‘preparing for tragedy’ at nuclear plant, U.N. chief calls for demilitarised zone – The Hindu

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Ukraine has in recent days warned of the risk of a Chornobyl-style nuclear disaster at the Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhia power plant

Ukraine has in recent days warned of the risk of a Chornobyl-style nuclear disaster at the Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhia power plant

Ukraine’s interior minister said on Thursday that Ukraine had to be ready for any scenario at the Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant that has been shelled, including evacuating people from the area.

Ukraine and Russia-installed local officials blamed each other for a new volley of shelling on Thursday at the nuclear power plant — Europe’s biggest — which lies in southern Ukraine.

Also read: IAEA chief raises alarm over strikes at Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant in Ukraine

Russia seized Europe’s largest nuclear power plant in March after invading Ukraine on Feb. 24. The plant is still run by its Ukrainian technicians and Ukraine’s Energoatom said the area was struck five times on Thursday, including near the site where radioactive materials are stored.

“The plant is as of today not only in the hands of the enemy, but in the hands of uneducated specialists who could potentially allow for a tragedy to happen,” Interior Minister Denys Monastyrsky told Reuters in an interview.

“Of course, it’s difficult to even imagine the scale of the tragedy which could come into effect if Russians continue their actions there,” he said.

Ukraine has in recent days warned of the risk of a Chornobyl-style nuclear disaster.

“This means for us that… we have to prepare for any scenario. The state emergency services together with the Interior ministry and the Regions Ministry is discussing different scenarios that are needed, including the question of evacuations,” said Mr. Monastyrsky.

U.N. chief urges for demilitarised zone

U.N. chief Antonio Guterres on Thursday called for military activity around the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power complex to end. He urged the withdrawal of military personnel and equipment and for no more forces or equipment to be deployed. He called for Russia and Ukraine not to target the facilities or surrounding area.

“The facility must not be used as part of any military operation. Instead, urgent agreement is needed at a technical level on a safe perimeter of demilitarisation to ensure the safety of the area,” Mr. Guterres said in a statement.

The United States also supports calls for a demilitarised zone around Zaporizhzhia, a State Department spokesperson said on Thursday.

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