Zelensky warns of ‘catastrophe’ if Ukraine nuclear power station not defended

Associated Press file
A Russian serviceman guards in an area of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Station in territory under Russian military control, southeastern Ukraine, on May 1, 2022.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Monday that Russia’s actions could “cause a catastrophe” should Europe’s largest nuclear power plant in Ukraine not be defended properly.

“If Russia’s actions cause a catastrophe, the consequences may also hit those who remain silent so far,” Zelensky warned.

He continued, “Any radiation incident at the Zaporizhzhia NPP can affect the countries of the European Union, Turkey, Georgia and countries from more distant regions.”

Zelensky elaborated on the effects of Russia’s presence near the power plant on the international community, saying that Russia is ignoring and rejecting other countries’ demands.

“If a terrorist state allows itself to completely ignore the demands of the international community, especially in such a sensitive topic, this clearly indicates the need for immediate action,” he said, adding that Russia is “rejecting the security demands” of 42 countries that have asked the country to withdraw its forces from the plant.

The countries, including the United States, Germany, Japan and the nations of the European Union, released a joint statement earlier Monday calling on Russia to withdraw from the area.

“We urge the Russian Federation to immediately withdraw its military forces and all other unauthorised personnel from the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, its immediate surroundings, and all of Ukraine,” the countries wrote.

In his address, the Ukrainian president called for “new tough sanctions against Russia,” calling it a “terrorist state” and calling on other countries to support Ukraine’s fight against its neighbor’s takeover of nuclear plants.

“And if now the world lacks the strength and determination to protect one nuclear plant, it means that the world loses,” said Zelensky.

He ended his speech with a warning to Russia: “All Russian terrorists should know that every meter of Ukrainian land is an absolute danger for them. No matter how they try to hide. No matter where it is. They will be found and destroyed.”

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