Ukrainian authorities warned of possible Russian provocations at Europe’s largest nuclear power plant after workers there were reportedly told not to come to work on Friday.
Russian nuclear authorities told employees at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant to stay home Friday, a Ukrainian intelligence official told NBC News.
The order has sparked concern that Russian President Vladimir Putin may have plans for a so-called false flag operation, as the war enters its sixth month.
“There is new information, it arrived about half an hour ago, that for tomorrow, August 19, there is an order for the majority of the [power plant’s] staff not to go to work,” Andriy Yusov, a spokesman for Ukrainian military intelligence, told the outlet.
“This is what the Russians told their people, primarily the employees of [Russian nuclear agency] Rosatom.”
The Post could not independently verify the order.
Russia and Ukraine have been trading blame for recent shelling at the plant, which Russian forces seized in March and promptly began using as a military base.
The plant, which sits some 75 miles downriver from the city of Zaporizhzhia, has been home to Russian artillery units that have been shelling nearby Ukrainian positions with relative impunity.
One of the plant’s six nuclear reactors was shut down two weeks ago after explosions took out an electrical transformer nearby. Neither side has claimed responsibility for the explosion.
The United Nations’ atomic energy chief, Rafael Grossi, urged both sides to allow experts access to the plant to assess its safety last week. No agreement to that effect has been reached.
Meanwhile, Russia’s UN ambassador, Vassily Nebenzia, blamed Ukraine for “pushing the world to the brink of nuclear catastrophe” with what he called the nation’s “criminal attacks on nuclear infrastructure.”
Yusov, the Ukrainian intelligence spokesman, accused the Russians of planning “large-scale provocations” at the plant as early as Friday.
“We do not rule out the possibility of massive Russian provocations on the territory of the ZNPP tomorrow,” he said. “This is confirmed by their propaganda, information from our sources, and the behavior of the Russians at the station.”
An explosion at one of the plant’s reactors — or a large enough explosion at the plant’s radioactive waste facility — could potentially distribute nuclear fallout for hundreds of miles.
With Post wires
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