Russian forces occupy Ukraine nuclear plant after shelling sparks fire

Russian forces took control of Europe’s largest nuclear power plant Friday after shelling sparked a fire and fears of nuclear meltdown.

The blaze at the Zaporizhzhia plant, located in Ukraine’s southeast, was extinguished early Friday but not before it spread fears of catastrophic fallout across the continent.

The crisis came as Russian forces made gains in the country’s south and Ukraine’s humanitarian crisis worsened, with residential areas increasingly coming under siege despite some progress in talks.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, who had already raised the specter of nuclear war over Europe, intensified his assault on his democratic neighbor as he deepened a crackdown on dissent at home.

Latest developments on Ukraine:

  • Russian forces occupied Europe’s biggest nuclear power plant after shelling sparked a fire.
  • Ukraine and Russia tentatively agreed to create humanitarian corridors that would allow for safe evacuations of civilians.
  • Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov warned that the situation was at a “tipping point.”
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin deepened his crackdown on dissent and war coverage.

The fire at the power plant, which broke out after fierce fighting between Russian troops and Ukrainian forces, was extinguished several hours after it ignited alarm across world capitals.

Ukrainian authorities said Russian forces had “occupied” the site.

The state nuclear regulator said the blaze was centered on a building identified as a training center, and that there was some damage to the compartment of reactor No. 1 but that it did not affect the safety of the unit.

The International Atomic Energy Agency said no “essential” equipment had been damaged and both Kyiv and Washington said there was no indication of an increase in radiation levels.

The world’s largest nuclear disaster took place in Chernobyl, Ukraine in 1986. That site is now also occupied by Russian forces.

In an emotional video address, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy accused Russian forces of purposefully targeting the Zaporizhzhia power plant.

“They know where they are shooting,” he said in a message posted on Telegram.

“If there is an explosion it is the end for all of us. The end of Europe. The evacuation of Europe.”

President Joe Biden and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson spoke with Zelenskyy about the incident, with both urging Russia to stop military activities in the area so firefighters and emergency responders could get to the site.

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