Russian troops Monday launched strikes on Ukraine’s second-largest nuclear power plant that resulted in a power outage but left the reactors undamaged, according to Ukraine’s state nuclear company.
A “powerful explosion” was heard near the Pivdennoukrainsk nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine just after midnight, Ukraine’s Energoatom wrote on Telegram.
Artillery shells landed 300 meters from the reactors, the company said, resulting in a temporary power outage and sending a shockwave that smashed over 100 windows at the complex. No one at the site was hurt.
Responding to the incident, Ukraine’s Energy Minister German Galushchenko said: “Russia is desperate to put the world on the verge of nuclear disaster to achieve any progress in its energy blackmailing Europe.”
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the incident demonstrates that “Russia threatens the whole world, adding: “We have to stop it before it’s too late.”
Russia did not immediately react to the accusations.
The southern Ukrainian region of Mykolaiv that’s home to the Pivdennoukrainsk plant has been under constant attack by Russian troops in recent months.
Officials were forced to temporarily shut down Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia facility, Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, earlier this month following repeated shelling, with both Moscow and Kyiv accusing each other of carrying out attacks.
The U.N.’s nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, has called for a nuclear safety and security protection zone to be set up around the site “to prevent a nuclear accident arising from physical damage caused by military means.”