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Russia and Ukraine blame each other for renewed shelling at Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant

The Russian Ministry of Defense says that Ukrainian artillery fired during the night of November 19 and the morning of November 20 fell on the territory of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant (ZNPP), which Russian troops have captured. 

The Ministry claims that between 9:15 and 9:45am Moscow time on November 20, Ukrainian Armed Forces fired 12 high-caliber artillery shells, one of which allegedly landed on the roof of a special building housing “fresh nuclear fuel,” according to Russian nuclear power company Rosenergoatom.

The remaining artillery exploded near the plant’s fourth and fifth power blocks, according to Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov. Rosenergoatom said that a dry storage site for nuclear waste came under fire. Between 10:00 and 10:10am, according to the Defense Ministry, Ukrainian Armed Forces launched two shells at the electrical transmission line that supplies the nuclear plant.

Ukrainian state nuclear energy company Energoatom said “the Russian military shelled the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant all morning,” and disabled infrastructure that is necessary to launch the plant’s fifth and sixth power blocks as well as for “restoring electricity production from the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant for Ukraine’s needs.”

“The radiation situation in the area around the nuclear power plant remains normal,” said a representative of the Russian Defense Ministry. There have been no reports of injuries from the shelling.

Head of Chechnya Ramzan Kadyrov posted a video which allegedly shows shelling from the Ukrainian side at the ZNPP. Neither the clip’s authenticity, nor the date it was shot, could be confirmed.

In times of war it is impossible to immediately verify information disseminated even by official representatives of parties to the conflict.

Rafael Grossi, director general of the IAEA called for an immediate end to shelling at the ZNPP. He confirmed that shelling was renewed at and near the plant at night on November 19 and in the morning of November 20. According to information which the plant’s management supplied to the IAEA, strikes at the ZNPP damaged several buildings, systems, and equipment, but the damage is not yet critical for nuclear safety, says Grossi.

“Whoever is behind this, it must stop immediately. As I have said many times before, you’re playing with fire!” said the head of the IAEA.

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Earlier this month the IAEA adopted a resolution calling on Russia to withdraw its military and other personnel from the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.

Russian troops captured the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in March, 2022, shortly after the invasion of Ukraine. Since then, Russia and Ukraine have traded blame for shelling at the power plant.

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