Ukrainian ministry: Russian rocket launcher pointed at nuclear power plant

Smoke rises from an air defense base following an apparent Russian strike in Mariupol, Ukraine, Thursday, Feb. 24, 2022. Russian troops launched their planned attack on Ukraine. Large explosions were heard before dawn in Kiev, Kharkiv and Odessa as world leaders denounced the start of a Russian invasion that could cause mass casualties and topple Ukraine’s democratically elected government. (AP Photo/Evgeny Maloletka)

(The hill) – The Russian military threatens a nuclear power plant in Ukraine amid the ongoing invasion in the country.

The Russian military presence has increased near the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, which is in a town in the Zaporizhzhia region, the Ukrainian Ministry of Internal Affairs reported.

Russian forces pointed one of their deadliest weapons, a multiple rocket launcher called “Grad”, at the nuclear power plant, according to the ministry.

Ukraine has reached out to the international community about the danger as the Interior Ministry says the Ukrainian army is heading to the area to defend the plant.

“The armed forces, the national guard and the civil militias will do everything to prevent a catastrophe, we are ready to destroy the enemy. But we have to be ready for anything,” said Vadim Denisenko, adviser to the interior minister.

An attack on Ukraine’s nuclear fleet, one of the largest in the world, could have disastrous consequences.

The nuclear fleet includes four power plants and 15 reactors and provides about half of the country’s electricity.

On Saturday, Ukraine’s Infrastructure Ministry said Ukrainian forces intercepted a Russian missile heading for the Kiev reservoir.

“The destruction of the reservoir could create a cascading effect that could destroy other dams and even damage the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant,” the infrastructure ministry said in a statement.

Russian forces previously took control from the Chernobyl nuclear site on Thursday, less than 24 hours after the start of the invasion of Ukraine.

Chernobyl is known as the site of the worst nuclear accident in history. In 1986, several explosions occurred in the reactor, the core of which suffered a meltdown, and radioactive materials were released into the atmosphere. Dozens of people died and thousands were evacuated from the area.

After Ukraine gained independence following the fall of the Soviet Union, it inherited one of the largest nuclear arsenals in the world.

However, Ukraine gave up its nuclear arsenal after signing a treaty with Russia and the United States. In exchange for giving up its nuclear arsenal, security guarantees were given by the US, UK and Russia that Ukraine would not be attacked.

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