Ukraine plans to carry out artillery strikes on the Russia-controlled Zaporozhye nuclear power plant on Friday, and then accuse Russia of causing a disaster at the site, the Russian Defense Ministry said on Thursday.
The predicted attack will be timed to coincide with the ongoing visit to Ukraine by UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, the ministry claimed.
The Russian ministry said it has detected movements of Ukrainian troops, indicating a looming “provocation.”
Kiev has deployed units trained in responding to the use of weapons of mass destruction, pre-positioning them to report a radiation leak and demonstrate a purported action to mitigate it, Russian military spokesman Igor Konashenkov said.
The ministry said it expects a Ukrainian artillery unit to attack the plant on Friday from the city of Nikopol. “The blame for the consequences [of the strike] will be attributed to the Russian armed forces,” the statement said.
In a separate statement on Thursday, Igor Kirillov, who heads Russia’s Nuclear Biological and Chemical Defense Troops, said his directorate has modeled possible scenarios for a disaster at the Zaporozhye plant. A plume of radioactive materials from the site may reach Poland, Slovakia and Germany, he warned.
Russia has accused Ukraine of conducting frequent drone and artillery strikes against the nuclear power plant in the city of Energodar over the past few weeks. Kiev has denied responsibility and said Russian forces were attacking the plant to discredit Ukraine. Ukrainian officials have also claimed that Russia is using the Zaporozhye facility as a military base.
During the briefing, Konashenkov denied Ukrainian claims that Russia has deployed heavy weapons at the Zaporozhye plant and is attacking Ukrainian troops from the site. The only Russian troops at the facility are lightly armed guards providing physical security, the official said.
The ministry pledged to do its best to prevent damage to the nuclear facility.
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