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Russia’s nuclear terrorism is becoming the biggest nuclear threat for Ukraine and the World

The times of independence of the Russian Federation showed that human life is not a priority for the Russian authorities. Former agents of the Soviet special services who came to power in Russia use cruel and illegal methods to achieve their own ambitions: from poisoning their citizens on the territory of other states, killing oppositionists and sabotage in NATO countries to systematic military campaigns, such as in Chechnya, Georgia , Syria or Ukraine. Each such campaign is accompanied by violations of human rights, the bombing of cities, including with the use of prohibited weapons. The war in Ukraine has become another evidence that the Russian authorities are ready to commit any crimes in order to achieve their goals.

In Ukraine, the Russian authorities have gone further and, in addition to using banned munitions and chemicals, have resorted to nuclear terrorism. In February, Russian troops seized the Chernobyl nuclear power plant with the expectation of creating a foothold for a subsequent offensive on the capital. The Chernobyl nuclear power plant is located 130 kilometers north of Kyiv and, from the point of view of the Russian command, is a convenient direction for an attack on the Ukrainian capital. Fortunately, the Ukrainian forces have protected Kyiv, forcing the invaders to change tactics and withdraw from the north without fighting in the exclusion zone. As a result of Russian activity near Chernobyl, only soldiers who interacted with radioactive substances at the station, as well as those dug in the “Red Forest”, a highly toxic zone, suffered. According to Chernobyl workers, the actions of the Russians were real "suicide."[1]

However, Russians did not limit themselves to the Chernobyl nuclear power plant and are now terrorizing Ukraine with their activities at the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant. ZNPP is located in the steppe zone on the banks of the Kakhovka reservoir in the Zaporizhzhya region, near the city of Enerhodar. It is the largest nuclear power plant in Europe and the sixth in the world. The station operates 6 VVER-1000 power units. The station is now equipped as a military base with a large number of soldiers, heavy equipment and ammunition. Rational people would consider the idea of placing munitions that could detonate near nuclear power units to be crazy, but the Russians see the nuclear power plant as a shelter for their units. From the city of Enerhodar, shelling of the city of Nikopol, located on the opposite bank of the Dnipro, is regularly carried out. The Russians also carried out regular shelling of the territory of the nuclear power plant itself. Before the shelling, employees of the Russian "Rosatom" leave the territory, after - the Russians accuse the Armed Forces of Ukraine of provocations. Since the capture of the station, Ukrainian employees have continued to work in psychologically difficult conditions under the muzzles of Russian guns, but still stay there in order to prevent a repeat of Chernobyl disaster.

Russians can pursue several goals in the Zaporizhzhya NPP. Firstly, this is NATO nuclear blackmail, which involves forcing Ukraine to a ceasefire, fixing territorial gains on paper with the aim of further aggression after recovery of forces. To contain the Ukrainian counter-offensive in the South, the Russians are trying to intimidate Ukraine and its allies and resort to extremely dangerous rhetoric. In particular, it is worth recalling the recently made statement by the Russian Major General Vasilyev - "there will be Russian land or a scorched desert here". Secondly, having annexed the Ukrainian South, the Russians are trying to steal the power plant and supply the energy it produces to Russia. Thirdly, disconnection from the power grid aims to avoid a "blackout" in the Crimea. The Tavricheskaya (Simferopol) and Balaklavskaya (Sevastopol) power plants with a capacity of 470 MW were powered by gas from Boyko Towers on the Ukrainian shelf of the Black Sea. After the destruction of the towers by the Armed Forces of Ukraine, the Russians faced the risk of power blackouts.[2] Also, if the ZNPP is disconnected from the Ukrainian power grid, there may be a shortage of electricity in the South of Ukraine.

In this war Russia uses nuclear energy as a weapon. Work at the station to reconnect it (to hijack) is just as dangerous as direct shelling. Such actions create a danger not only for Ukraine, but for the whole world, because it will be impossible to localize the consequences of a potential accident. Andriy Klymenko, an expert from the Black Sea Institute of Strategic Studies, noted that the distance from Enerhodar to Istanbul is 830 km. With a wind speed of 10 m/s, dust from Enerhodar will reach Istanbul in 23 hours. For 6-7 hours – will reach Simferopol.[3] Therefore, the events taking place in Zaporizhzhya concern the entire international community. Currently, countries and organizations limited themselves to verbal appeals and negotiations through diplomatic channels. Director of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Rafael Grossi said that the station is completely out of control of the agency. Grossi stressed that all the principles of nuclear safety were violated at the station. "In addition, the plant is located in the middle of an active war zone”. So far, Ukrainian diplomats are working on organizing an inspection of the IAEA delegation at the ZNPP.

Today, we can speak of an insufficient reaction on the part of the international community to Russian nuclear terrorism. Both the UN and the EU and individual countries, including the G7 countries, have already called on Russia to withdraw troops from the nuclear power plant. Particular concern was observed on the part of Japan, which knows from its own experience what a nuclear catastrophe is. However, paper condemnation and appeals do not correspond to the threats which an accident at Europe's largest nuclear power plant can carry. The tone in which these events are covered in the world media also indicates a lack of understanding of the possible consequences.

Nuclear terrorism is an unacceptable phenomenon and therefore requires a tough response. Volodymyr Zelenskyy, in his address on August 13, called for sanctions to be imposed on the nuclear industry of the Russian Federation. This would be a logical and adequate step, given Russia's deliberate actions. This country uses a peaceful atom for military purposes, endangering the lives of millions of people. It also affects the nuclear non-proliferation regime. As Ukrainian diplomat Mykola Tochytsky noted at the conference on the NPT in New York, Russia violated all three main principles of the NPT - it reversed the process of nuclear disarmament, rejected the principle of nuclear non-proliferation (deployment of nuclear weapons in occupied Crimea) and exclusively peaceful use of atomic energy (capture of nuclear facilities of Ukraine). Tochytsky notes that this is the first fact in history of the transformation of civilian nuclear facilities into military targets and a bridgehead for the Russian army. He also emphasized that the world has actually faced manifestations of nuclear terrorism sponsored by a nuclear state.[4]

For its actions, Russia should receive the status of a state sponsor of terrorism. If Anthony Blinken has so far refrained from making such a decision, then the ongoing terrorist activity of the Russian Federation around the Zaporizhzhia NPP may become the final argument. In addition, it is necessary to introduce sanctions against the nuclear industry of the Russian Federation. Russia disregards the principles and strikes against the non-proliferation regime, which cannot be left unanswered. In its actions, Russia is guided by the intention to change the existing system of international relations to a multipolar one, and indeed, the actions of the Russian Federation call into question the effectiveness and expediency of existing institutions. Therefore, in addition to introducing the status of a terrorist state, imposing sanctions against Russia's nuclear industry, the terrorist state should be excluded from the UN and the OSCE. Such steps will contribute to strengthening the existing tools of global governance, since the aggressor state will not be able to destroy them from the inside.

1. Мазуренко Альона, Reuters: Росіяни катаються Рудим лісом у Чорнобилі – працівники називають це "самогубством", 29.03.2022,
2. Микола Топалов, Росіяни хочуть відключити Запорізьку АЕС від України. Чи можливо це та якими можуть бути наслідки? 08.08.2022.
3. Facebook сторінка Андрія Клименка, 08.08.2022,
4. Росія порушила всі три принципи Договору про нерозповсюдження ядерної зброї – МЗС, 03.08.2022,