Putin is planning a ‘man made catastrophe’ at Chernobyl: Ukrainian intelligence claims Russia will fake a terror attack at nuclear plant and try to blackmail the world
Russia is preparing a ‘terrorist attack’ on the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in order to create a ‘man-made catastrophe’, Ukraine’s intelligence services said today.
The invading forces would create a ‘technological catastrophe’ before trying to shift the responsibility on to Kyiv, according to an intelligence update posted online.
The warning came as Britain and the US were raising the alarm over suspicions the Kremlin could use chemical weapons in its brutal war.
It also came a day after Russia’s deputy energy minister, Yevgeny Grabchak, said power had been restored to the decommissioned plant, after Ukraine said earlier this week that Putin’s forces had cut the electricity.
However, the intelligence update disputed this, and repeated an earlier warning that if the electricity is cut, the plant’s emergency diesel generators that provide back-up power to safety systems can only last 48-hours.
The power cut – and Ukraine’s latest warning – has raised concerns that Chernobyl could be the site of another nuclear disaster, as spent nuclear fuel can not not be cooled without electricity to pump cold water into cooling pools.
‘According to available information, Vladimir Putin has ordered the preparation of a terrorist attack at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant,’ the intelligence update said.
‘The Russian-controlled Chernobyl nuclear power plant plans to create a man-made catastrophe, for which the occupiers will try to shift responsibility to Ukraine.’
Russian forces captured the plant and cut the power in the early days of the invasion.
The intelligence service also said that since then, the plant has been disconnected from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)’s monitoring systems.
‘Currently, the Chernobyl nuclear power plant is completely disconnected from the monitoring systems of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA),’ it said.
‘The station is de-energized. The service life of the available diesel generators is designed for 48 hours of maintenance of safety systems.’
The update continued: ‘In order to imitate the involvement of the Ukrainian military in the Chernobyl accident, the occupiers are trying to create fake “evidence” to confirm their version.
‘In particular, Russian car refrigerators collecting the bodies of dead Ukrainian defenders were spotted near the Antonov airport in Gostomel. There is a possibility that they will be presented as killed saboteurs in the Chernobyl zone.’
Earlier this week, Ukraine pleaded with Russia to observe a ceasefire so engineers could go into Chernobyl and restore the power. This was refused, Ukraine said.
‘The occupiers refused to grant access to the station to Ukrainian repairmen,’ the update continued.
‘Instead, ‘Belarusian specialists’ went there on the instructions of Alexander Lukashenko. Among them, under the guise of nuclear power plants, Russian saboteurs also come to organize a terrorist attack.’
On Wednesday, IAEA also said it had lost contact with the captured Zaporizhzhia power plant, just hours after warning of a potential unfolding disaster at Chernobyl.
The agency said warning systems at Zaporizhzhia – Europe’s largest nuclear power plant – had stopped broadcasting updates in the days since Russian forces shelled the site, resulting in international condemnation.
IAEA chief Rafael Grossi said Wednesday he was ‘concerned about the sudden interruption’ of the data flows to the watchdog’s Vienna headquarters.
He added that the reason for the disruption in updates from the power plants was not clear but the IAEA was still receiving data from other nuclear facilities in Ukraine, including three other operational nuclear power plants.
Also on Wednesday, Ukraine warned Chernobyl could be 48 hours away from leaking radiation, and the country’s nuclear company Energoatom warned that radioactive substances could be released if an electricity outage at the site continues any longer, as it makes it impossible to cool spent nuclear fuel.
Energoatom has said that work to repair the connection and restore power to the plant – the site of the world’s biggest nuclear disaster in 1996 – has not been possible because fighting is under way in the region.