A Kremlin-backed leader has issued Russia’s latest dire threat of annihilation by warning of strikes against the UK and the US if Western-backed Ukraine tries to recapture the Zaporizhzhia power plant.
The biggest nuclear site in Europe has been in Russian-occupied territory since March, but it continues to be operated by Ukrainian technicians working under the barrels of Putin’s troops.
Kyiv claims the Russian commander in charge has wired it with explosives and threatened to blow it up if Ukraine tries to take it back.
There are also fears Putin’s forces will blame a disaster at the plant as a false flag pretext to justify a further escalation of violence.
Kremlin-backed TV station Rossiya 1 aired Moscow’s latest sabre-rattling last night in response to the crisis after renewed artillery blasts last week which both sides blamed on the other.
Yury Kot, the leader of the pro-Russian Ukrainian movement Parus, claimed it was Kyiv and the West jeopardising nuclear safety rather than Putin.
A serviceman with a Russian flag on his uniform stands guard near the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant
Zaporizhzhia continues to be operated by Ukrainian technicians working under the barrels of Putin ‘s troops
Yury Kot, the leader of the pro-Russian Ukrainian movement Parus, claimed it was Kyiv and the West jeopardising nuclear safety rather than Putin
He said: ‘We all understand very well that [Ukraine and the West] are concocting a fictional reality. We are dealing with the reality.
‘We need to tell Ukraine and its supporting countries – Britain and America foremost… and make it clear.
‘If Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant is damaged and a disaster occurs, two missiles will immediately strike your decision-making centres.
‘One in Washington, the other in London. Nuclear ones.
‘And that’s it. There won’t be any more talk.’
The biggest nuclear site in Europe has been in Russian-occupied territory since March
Putin has boasted that his new Sarmat [Satan-2] (pictured) and Tsirkon nuclear missiles are ‘unstoppable’ by Western defences
Kot’s bellicose statement was slapped down by fellow talkshow pundit Aleksey Mukhin, head of Centre for Political Information, who said: ‘This would trigger the mutual destruction protocol, so I would honestly refrain from making such statements.’
Putin has boasted that his new Sarmat [Satan-2] and Tsirkon nuclear missiles are ‘unstoppable’ by Western defences.
Propagandist Igor Korotchenko – a reserve colonel and editor-in-chief of Russia’s National Defence magazine – warned of a nuclear-style winter even without a missile strike, caused by the gas shortages being imposed on the West by Putin.
‘So this world is doomed,’ he claimed.
‘Millions of Europeans…are terrified by winter coming. It will be like a nuclear winter.
‘An apocalypse before our eyes. Switching off the energy, lack of gas, marauders on the streets, hassles with the police and desperate people’s attempts to survive.
‘There will be no food, no electricity, and no gas. And the main thing is there will be no hope.’
Major-general Valery Vasilyev, who commands Russia’s nuclear, biological and chemical protection troops, has reportedly told Ukraine about the bombs at Zaporizhzhia and warned: ‘This will be either Russian land or scorched earth.’
Vasilyev also told his men that even if they are given ‘the toughest order, we must fulfil it with honour,’ according to Ukraine’s state atomic energy firm Energoatom.
It comes after a weekend of artillery blasts at the plant which damaged power lines, knocked out sensor and wounded a worker. Russia and Ukraine have each blamed the other for the strikes.
Russia has been accused of wiring Europe’s largest nuclear power plant with explosives that will be detonated if Ukraine tries to take it back (file image)
Vasilyev’s words were also shared by Ukraine’s culture and information policy ministry, and by Anton Gerashchenko a senior adviser to the interior ministry.
‘Nuclear blackmail for the whole world,’ Gerashchenko said.
Meanwhile Petro Kotin, head of Energoatom, warned of a ‘Chernobyl-style’ disaster if containers of spent nuclear fuel at the plant are hit – saying it will be ‘impossible to assess the scale of this catastrophe’ if two or more are breached.
Kotin called for a ‘demilitarized zone’ to be set up around the plant, and for an international team of ‘peacekeepers’ to be sent in to safeguard it.
Antonio Guterres, speaking from Japan commemorating the US nuclear bombing of Hiroshima, described the attacks on Zaporizhzhia as ‘suicidal’.
The Zaporizhzhia plant was struck on two separate occasions last week – once on Friday and then again on Saturday, local authorities said.
The first attack damaged a pylon leading to the site, and the second damaged three safety sensors and wounded a worker.
One of the plant’s six nuclear reactors had to be shut down after the first attack, Ukraine said, though only as a precaution.
‘A nuclear catastrophe was miraculously avoided, but miracles cannot last forever,’ Energoatom posted after the attacks ended.
President Zelensky has accused Moscow of using ‘nuclear terror’ as a weapon as Putin’s invasion of the country falters.
But Moscow has accused Kyiv of carrying out the attack, saying Western allies should exert pressure to get the shelling to stop.
Events at the Zaporizhzhia site – where Kyiv alleged that Russia hit a power line on Friday – have alarmed the world.
Guterres said the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) needed access to the plant.
‘We fully support the IAEA in all their efforts in relation to create the conditions of stabilisation of the plant,’ Guterres said.
IAEA chief Rafael Mariano Grossi warned on Saturday that the latest attack ‘underlines the very real risk of a nuclear disaster’.