The spokesman for the Russian Ministry of Defense, Major General Igor Konashenkov, issued an official statement on Friday, 4th March morning concerning the shootout and fire that had occurred at Ukraine’s Zaporozhskaya nuclear power plant earlier the same day.
“Last night, an attempt to carry out a horrible provocation was made by Kiev’s nationalist regime on the area surrounding the station,” he announced, claiming the Russian troops patrolling the territory had been attacked by a Ukrainian sabotage group.
According to the spokesman, the Ukrainian forces had attacked Russian soldiers at about 2am local time, opening heavy fire from the training facility next to the power station in order to “provoke a retaliatory strike on the building.”
The Russian patrol had neutralized the group’s firing points, but the saboteurs had then set fire to the training facility as they retreated, Konashenkov said. The blaze was put out by the Ukrainian State Emergency Service’s firefighters. “At the moment of provocation, no staff members were at the facility,” he noted.
In response to the Russian Ministry of Defense’s statement, Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky denied the provocation claims and accused Russian forces of having staged the attack.
The mayor of the nearby town of Energodar had originally reported that the fire had been caused by Russian shelling, and that the blaze had engulfed the power plant itself, but the emergency services dismissed the latter claim.
It was reported on Monday that the facility had been captured by Russian forces, and that staff were keeping operations going and monitoring radiation levels. The International Atomic Energy Agency has offered assurances that there has been no change in those levels in the wake of the incident.
Russia began its military offensive in Ukraine last week, claiming its spec op was aimed at “demilitarizing” and “denazifying” the government in Kiev and stopping what it called the “genocide” in the two breakaway regions of Donetsk and Lugansk. Ukraine has accused Moscow of an unprovoked offensive, with the US and its NATO allies following suit and imposing severe economic sanctions.
Photo: A screen grab captured from a video shows a view of Zaporozhskaya nuclear power plant during the fire that followed clashes around the site on March 4, 2022. / Zaporozhskaya Nuclear Power Plant