In case you missed earlier installments of this story, the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant is in territory controlled by Russia; however, the Ukrainian energy company, Energoatom, is still operating the plant. There have been reports that Russia is using the site to launch artillery attacks on the Ukrainian front lines, knowing the Ukrainians don’t dare fire back for fear of damaging the reactor.
Earlier this month there was a report from Energoatom claiming that Major General Valerii Vasyliev, the Russian in charge of the surrounding area, had mined the facility and was threatening to blow it up rather than leave. He was quoted as saying, “The enemy knows that the station will be either Russian or no-one’s.”
A couple of days ago, Allahpundit walked through all of the latest developments at the plant including concern that Russia might be planning some kind of false flag attack, i.e. blaming Ukraine for damaging the plant.
Why would Russia want that? Possibly as a way to stop a potential Ukrainian advance. It would give Putin a big enough distraction to freeze his current gains and apply pressure on Ukraine to accept its current losses in the east. Or Putin could be using this as a way to threaten Europe, i.e. if you’re not careful there could be a nuclear accident.
Today there’s some additional information which adds to the sense that Russia is planning something. A spokesman for Ukraine’s defense department told NBC News that Russian employees at the plant have been told not to show up for work on Friday:
“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 staff not to go to work,” [spokesman Andriy] Yusov told NBC News.
“This is what the Russians told their people, primarily the employees of Rosatom,” he said, referring to the Russian nuclear agency.
He said that this might be evidence that Russia is preparing “large-scale provocations” at the power plant Friday.
“We do not rule out the possibility of massive 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 station,” he added, referring to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.
At the same time Russia is claiming that Ukraine is planning some kind of “provocation” at the site and using that as an excuse to potentially shut down the reactor.
Russia said on Thursday there was a risk of a man-made disaster at Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant and accused Kyiv and the West of planning “provocation” there on Friday during a visit to Ukraine by U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres…
There was also this not-very-subtle warning about what could happen in the case of an accident at the plant.
After studying the wind forecasts, this is where experts believe that radiation would go if there was an accident at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Powerplant between August 15-18.
Poland, the Baltic states, Romania and Hungary would be effected most out of EU states. pic.twitter.com/WhSsDJ9uqc
— Visegrád 24 (@visegrad24) August 18, 2022
Reposting this with some clarifying language. Based on archival footage, this video appears to show at least five apparent Russian military trucks inside Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, specifically the engine room with the turbo generator. https://t.co/Xf6YodVUFT
— Christiaan Triebert (@trbrtc) August 18, 2022
Why would you want to store trucks inside a nuclear plant?
An employee at the plant, communicating to The New York Times through a colleague in Kyiv, said that workers were terrified.
“The situation is terrible, everyone is scared of tomorrow’s provocations announced by Russia,” said the person, who spoke on the condition of anonymity out of fear for her safety. “Russia’s Defense Ministry said they expect provocations from the Ukrainian side, but we understand perfectly well what that means. Even more people are trying to leave.”