Russian attacks increase nuclear disaster fears

As Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has urged the country to cut its energy usage amid rising fears that Russian missile attacks may cause a nuclear catastrophe which could contaminate parts of Europe.

The head pf the country’s energy operations warned that the country faced a potential nuclear catastrophe, and the United States said the attacks were “horrific”.

Zelenskyy said the country needed to reduce its energy consumption as millions of homes and business were without power.

Speaking at the weekend he said: “As of this evening, blackouts continue in most regions and in Kyiv. In total, more than six million subscribers. Almost 12 million subscribers were disconnected from the grid on Wednesday evening.

“Most of the problems are currently in the capital of Ukraine, as well as in Kyiv region, Odesa region, Lviv region, Vinnytsia region and Dnipropetrovsk region. Please, it is necessary to consume electricity sparingly in all regions, as before.”

He continued: “If you don’t have a power outage, it doesn’t mean the problem is over. Please, if you have electricity, this does not mean that you can turn on several powerful electrical appliances at once.”

Spiked power draws are recorded every evening, which cause an increase in emergency blackouts. Now, as before, it is necessary to save energy.

Zelenskyy revealed 600,000 subscribers have been disconnected from the grid in the Kyiv.

He added he had spoken with President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen with the EU providing a EUR 2.5 billion macro-financial assistance. They approved another EUR 0.5 billion by the end of the year and discussed the preparation of the support package for the next year.

“They also agreed on new steps in energy support for Ukraine,” said Zelenskyy.

The US added it believe the failures of Russian troops in the fight against Ukraine’s armed forced has seen their switch to targeting the power grid and civilians.

NSC Spokesperson Adrienne Watson said: “As Russia struggles on the battlefield, it is increasingly turning to horrific attacks against the Ukrainian people with punishing strikes damaging energy grid infrastructure, and deliberately doing so as winter approaches.

“These strikes do not appear aimed at any military purpose and instead further the goal of the Putin regime to increase the suffering and death of Ukrainian men, women and children. It also shows Russia is willing to increase the risk of a nuclear safety incident that could not only further harm Ukraine but affect the entire region as well. The United States and our allies and partners will continue to provide Ukraine with what it needs to defend itself including air defence.”

She said: “We are in constant touch with Ukraine on its energy infrastructure needs and are working with allies and partners to support Ukraine – including the United States’ provision of $1.5 billion in humanitarian assistance since February with more than $250 million for winterization efforts to distribute heating fuel, generators, shelter repair materials, and blankets.”

Ukraine’s energy minister warned the ongoing attacks on Russian nuclear facilities had the potential to cause a nuclear disaster.

Petro Kotin, head of nuclear power company Energoatom, said the vast nuclear power station in the Zaporizhzhia region of southern Ukraine, which has been out of commission since September, had also been disconnected from the grid on Wednesday and became reliant on backup diesel generators.

He added that the Zaporizhzhia plant, which has been occupied by Russian forces since soon after Russia invaded Ukraine nine months ago, had been reconnected to the grid by Thursday morning and that the backup generators were turned off.

However he warned: “There is a real danger of a nuclear and radiation catastrophe being caused by firing on the entire territory of Ukraine with Russian cruise and ballistic missiles, and a huge risk of damage to nuclear plants.”