Ukraine ministry: Russian rocket launcher pointed at nuclear power plant

Smoke rise from an air defense base in the aftermath of an apparent Russian strike in Mariupol, Ukraine, Thursday, Feb. 24, 2022. Russian troops have launched their anticipated attack on Ukraine. Big explosions were heard before dawn in Kyiv, Kharkiv and Odesa as world leaders decried the start of Russian invasion that could cause massive casualties and topple Ukraine’s democratically elected government. (AP Photo / Evgeniy Maloletka)

(The Hill) – The Russian military is threatening a nuclear power plant in Ukraine amid the ongoing invasion in the country.

Russia’s military presence has increased near the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, which resides in a town in the Zaporizhzhia region, Ukraine’s ministry of internal affairs has reported.

Russian forces have aimed 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 while the ministry of internal affairs says the Ukrainian military is heading to the region to defend the plant.

“The armed forces, national guard and civilian militia will do anything to prevent a catastrophe, we are ready to destroy the enemy. But we have to be ready for anything, ”said Vadim Denisenko, advisor to the Minister of Internal Affairs.

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

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

On Saturday, the Ukrainian ministry of infrastructure said Ukrainian forces had intercepted a Russian missile headed for the Kyiv Reservoir.

“The destruction of the reservoir could create a cascade effect that could destroy other dams and even damage the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant,” the ministry of infrastructure said in a statement.

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

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

After Ukraine gained its 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 relinquishing its nuclear arsenal, security assurances were given by the US, UK and Russia that Ukraine would not be attacked.

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