Zaporizhia, Ukraine – Russia allegedly informed workers in Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant Ukrainian military intelligence confirmed exclusively to NBC News not to come to work on Friday.
It comes amid allegations and speculation from both Russia and Ukraine that an accident was planned on Friday at the plant.
On Thursday, Russia threatened to close the plant, warning that there Man-made disaster risk Because of the alleged continuous bombing by Ukraine.
But Ukraine has a completely different story, according to Andrey Yusov, a spokesman for the Main Intelligence Directorate of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine.
“There is new information, which arrived about half an hour ago, that tomorrow, August 19, there is an order for the majority of employees not to go to work,” Yusuf told NBC News.
“That’s what the Russians have said to their people, especially Rosatom’s employees,” he said, referring to the Russian nuclear agency.
He said this could be evidence that Russia is preparing for “large-scale provocations” at the power plant on Friday.
We do not exclude the possibility of large-scale Russian provocations on the territory of the ZNPP tomorrow. This is confirmed by their propaganda, information from our sources, and the behavior of the Russians at the plant,” referring to the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant.
Russia refused to confirm or deny whether any Rosatom personnel were stationed in Zaporizhia.
Earlier on Thursday, the Russian Defense Ministry accused Ukraine and its “American workers” of trying to stage a “minor accident” at the factory in southern Ukraine on Friday in order to blame Russia.
She said the timing of the “provocation” coincides with a visit to Ukraine by United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and that it may involve a radioactive leak.
Blame it on trade
Russia seized the Zaporizhia nuclear reactor complex, the largest in Europe, shortly after it invaded Ukraine nearly six months ago and was repeatedly bombed, with Moscow and Kiev sharing the blame.
Russia has repeatedly accused Ukrainian forces of recklessly shooting at the station, while Ukraine says Russia is deliberately using the complex as a base to launch attacks against its residents.
NBC News has not verified either side’s allegations.
A senior Ukrainian official told Reuters that the simplest solution to the situation was the withdrawal of Russian forces from the factory, the removal of any munitions stored there, and the removal of mines.
Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov told reporters on Thursday that Moscow was taking measures to ensure safety at the complex and denied that it had deployed heavy weapons in and around the factory.
But the ministry said an attempt could be made to shut down the station if Ukrainian forces continued to bombard it.
In a briefing, Igor Kirillov, commander of the Russian Defense Forces’ radioactive, chemical and biological defense forces, said that the station’s backup support systems were damaged as a result of the bombing.
Kirillov presented a slide showing that in the event of an accident at the plant, the radioactive material would cover Germany, Poland and Slovakia.