News summary of the Russian war in Ukraine on Thursday, August 18

Russia’s claim it may shut down Zaporizhia NPP sparks ‘radiation disaster’ warnings

Russia’s Defense Ministry said it is considering shutting down the occupied Zaporizhia nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine, prompting a warning from Ukraine’s state nuclear agency that doing so would pose a risk of disaster.

The “negative evolution” of the plant could force Russia to consider the possibility of “putting the 5th and 6th power units” in the ‘cold reserve’, which would lead to the “closure of the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant”, said the ministry in a statement Thursday, blaming Ukraine for bombing the site. Ukrainian authorities have refuted the allegations, accusing Russia of being behind the attacks that have damaged the complex.

Energoatom, the Ukrainian state-owned nuclear power company, said the prospect of closing the plant would bring “the scenario of a radiation disaster” closer.

“Due to the disconnection of the generators of the nuclear power plant [de Zaporiyia] of Ukraine’s electrical system, they will not be able to be used for their own fuel cooling needs in the event of a power outage at the plant,” Energoatom said in a Telegram post on Thursday. “This will approximate the possible scenario of a catastrophe radiology at the largest nuclear power plant in Europe”.

The plant is the focus of growing global concern after weeks of increased bombing prompted calls from the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency for experts to be allowed to visit the facility and have raised fears of a possible nuclear accident.

Both sides have tried to single out the other for the threat of nuclear terrorism.

Ukrainian shelling has damaged auxiliary support systems such as splash pools and other equipment that keep the reactors cool, according to the ministry, which accused Ukrainian forces of carrying out 12 attacks on the facility using more than 50 rocket shells. artillery and five kamikaze drones.

Ukraine has consistently denied the accusations and blamed Russia for bombing the plant, as well as using it as a shield from which to fire at Ukrainian positions in Nikopol, on the opposite bank of the Dnipro River. Russia has also denied the Ukrainian claims.

“We are ready to submit to the IAEA real high-resolution images … proving that weapons, especially heavy ones, are not placed on the territory of this station,” the Russian Defense Ministry said on Thursday.

“We know that in the presence of a large number of foreign military and commercial satellites, the same information can be presented to the world by the US side,” he added.

CNN cannot independently verify Ukrainian or Russian claims about the attacks and the placement of heavy military equipment at the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant.

CNN has contacted commercial satellite imagery operators to verify the Russian claims, but has yet to hear back.

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