Defense official: US concerned over Russia’s ‘intensions’ after seizing nuclear plant

The U.S. is “deeply concerned” over Russia’s near-term “intensions” after the Kremlin claimed they had taken control of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant overnight in Ukraine, a senior defense official said Friday. 

“We are in no position to refute claims that they are in control of the nuclear power plant. But we don’t know exactly right now what that control means and what it looks like,” the official told reporters.

“That’s one of the things that deeply concerns us … we don’t know what expertise they have, what they’ve applied to this, what their intentions are in the near term.” 

Russian forces in the early morning hours of Thursday attacked the nuclear plant in Enerhodar, a city on the Dnieper River that flows through the heart of Ukraine to the Black Sea. The seizure has raised fears over the possibility of a nuclear catastrophe.  

While the U.S. does not have “a firm sense on the nature of the attack” on the plant, officials believe there is not any radioactive leakage and that fires started in the nearby buildings have been put out, the official said. 

“We don’t have a firm sense on the nature of the attack on the power plant, so I can’t give you a blow-by-blow of exactly how that occurred and who the Russians employed — what they employed to make that assault on the power plant. But the main thing is we don’t see any radioactive leakage,” they said. 

The official called the seizure “reckless and dangerous,” adding that the Defense Department is providing advice and council to the Energy Department in working with allies and partners in the handling of the attacked plant.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield on Friday separately condemned the attack on Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, calling it “reckless and dangerous.”

International Atomic Energy Agency head Rafael Grossi told the United Nations Security Council on Friday that “operation continues normally” at the plant. He stressed, however, “there is no … normalcy about this situation when there are military forces of course in charge of the site.”

Tags Linda Thomas-Greenfield nuclear plant Russian invasion of Ukraine

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