Chris Lange, FISM News
Russian forces have installed multiple rocket launchers at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station, Ukraine’s state-run nuclear energy company said Thursday.
Energoatom said in a statement that it has uncovered evidence that Kremlin forces occupying the site had secretly installed several Grad multiple rocket launchers near one of the plant’s six nuclear reactors, “violating all conditions for nuclear and radiation safety,” The Associated Press reported.
Energoatom said the Soviet-built multiple rocket launchers, capable of firing rockets at ranges of up to 25 miles, would allow Russian forces to strike the cities of Marhanets and Nikopol located on the opposite bank of the Dnieper River where both sides have been engaged in heavy fighting.
The Zaporizhzhia plant has been under Russian control since the early days of the Russian invasion and is located in a region in Ukraine’s south that the Kremlin annexed in September through what the West described as “sham” referendums.
All six reactors at the nuclear power station, which is Europe’s largest, were shut down after weeks of intense shelling caused extensive damage that knocked out external power supplies, but the potential danger of a possible radiation leak in the reactor cooling systems remains a source of alarm to the West.
Putin has made ‘calamitous mistakes’ in war
U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff chair Mark Milley and his British counterpart, Tony Radakin, said that Russian President Vladimir Putin “has continued to make calamitous mistakes” in the conflict with Ukraine. The two men made the remarks Wednesday at a Chief Executive Officer Council meeting hosted by the Wall Street Journal in Washington, D.C., according to a Pentagon news release.
Milley acknowledged that, despite key missteps made by the Russian leader, Moscow still controls large swaths of Ukrainian territory, adding that “there’s still a significant amount of fighting to go.”
“But right this minute the situation on the ground … is [that] the lines are stabilizing and as winter rolls in, things will slow down a little bit as a result of the freezing cold,” he said. “Then there’ll be some potential opportunity for offensive action by either side in the depth of the winter because of the weather and the terrain.”
The leaders condemned weeks-long Russian attacks on Ukraine’s infrastructure, with Milley noting that Ukrainian forces are “not dependent upon that energy infrastructure for the conduct of the military operations.”
Radakin said the attacks have proven ineffective for the Kremlin.
“This is an existential conflict for Ukraine … the brutality of this is fueling an even stronger resolve in the Ukrainian people,” he said. “You’re seeing that on a daily basis.”
Washington, Moscow representatives to meet in Istanbul to address ‘difficult questions’
Russia’s TASS news agency reported Thursday that representatives from Moscow and the U.S. will meet in Istanbul on Friday, citing an unnamed source, Reuters reported.
The report from the state-run news service said the two sides would discuss a range of “difficult questions” including embassy staffing and visas, along with other unspecified issues.
Both the Russian embassy in Washington and the U.S. embassy in Moscow have engaged in a series of expulsions amid growing tensions between the two powers, both before and after Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine.
The talks would signify the second high-level face-to-face meeting between U.S. and Russian officials in less than a month. CIA Director William Burns met with Russian foreign intelligence chief Sergei Naryshkin in Ankara on Nov. 14 to “communicate with Russia on managing risk” and discuss the cases of “unjustly detained US citizens,” a National Security Council spokesperson confirmed to CNN following the meeting.
Meanwhile, the U.S. is expected to announce another $275 in military aid to Ukraine, which includes large quantities of ammunition and high-tech drone-detecting systems. The munitions are being supplied from U.S. weapons stocks through presidential drawdown authority. The U.S. has now committed over $19.3 billion in aid to Ukraine since the Feb. 24 invasion.