Radioactive waste from a blast at Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant could reach more than a dozen European countries — including Russia — in a matter of just three days, a chilling simulation video shows.
The video was created by the Ukrainian Hydrometeorological Institute and was shared by BBC journalist Myroslava Petsa on Thursday amid dueling warnings of “false flag” attacks from both Moscow and Kyiv.
According to the map, should a Chernobyl-style disaster take place at Zaporizhzhia — Europe’s largest nuclear plant — a radioactive cloud would disperse over 13 countries in the region, including Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Hungary, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Russia.
Concerns over the integrity of the six nuclear reactors at the facility, which has been under Russian control since March, reached a fever pitch on Friday, after officials with Rosatom — Russia’s state nuclear agency — reportedly announced an unplanned day off at the plant and “ urgently” left work.
Both Russia and Ukraine have accused each other of planning provocations at the nuclear plant, which has seen heavy shelling over the past weeks.
Kyiv said that Russian forces planned to disconnect the nuclear plant from the power grid.
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday warned France’s Emmanuel Macron during a rare phone call that shelling the facility — which he blamed on Ukrainian forces — could result in a “large-scale catastrophe that could lead to radioactive contamination of large territories.”
Ukraine has accused Russia of housing troops and storing weapons at the plant, and using its grounds to launch strikes against Ukrainian-controlled territory, knowing that Ukrainian forces would be reluctant to fire back.
On Friday, close Putin ally Nikolai Patrushev, the head of the Russian Security Council, claimed that Ukrainians were shelling Zaporizhzhia on the orders of the US.
“At the urging of the Americans, Ukrainians are constantly carrying out strikes against the critically important infrastructure of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant,” he said, according to reporting by the Russian state news agency TASS.
Patrushev then issued a stark warning: “If a man-made disaster occurs, its consequences will be felt in all corners of the world.”
During a meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Lviv on Thursday, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres expressed grave concerns about a possible disaster at the nuclear facility.
“We must tell it like it is,” he said. “Any potential damage to Zaporizhzhia is suicide.”
Guterres and other top UN officials have been calling on Russia and Ukraine to allow experts from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to visit the facility and conduct inspections and repairs.
In his conversation with Putin on Friday, Macron expressed his support for the IAEA mission to the site “as soon as possible.”
The Kremlin said that “the Russian side reaffirmed its readiness to offer the necessary assistance to the agency’s experts.”
Yevgeny Balitsky, the Moscow-backed chief of temporary administration for the Russia-controlled part of the Zaporizhzhia region, said Friday that an IAEA mission could approach the plant from Ukrainian-held territory — a shift in Moscow’s position, which had previously suggested that the mission should travel to the plant from Crimea.
With Post wires