Ukraine update: Russian activity at occupied nuclear power station allegedly linked to ‘dirty bomb’ claims

by Chris Lange

Chris Lange, FISM News


Russian forces have occupied Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhya nuclear power station for months, so the recent kidnappings of four Ukrainian operators who continued working at the site struck many observers as an odd and unnecessary move. On Tuesday, Ukraine’s Energy giant Energoatom shed light on the Kremlin’s possible motive for such actions in a statement that underscores growing concern that Russia is plotting a significant escalation in the war.

While the Kremlin continues doubling down on its claims that Ukraine is planning to unleash a radioactive “dirty bomb,” Energoatom on Tuesday released a statement indicating that Russian forces have, for the past week, engaged in unauthorized and secretive activities at the nuclear fuel storage facility. 

Energoatom linked this activity to Russia’s “hostile propaganda” that Ukraine plans to use a radioactive bomb and noted that Moscow’s forces have barred Ukrainian and U.N. nuclear inspectors from gaining access to the site.

“Such construction on the territory of the nuclear plant is an illegal interference by Russia in the DSNFSF nuclear installation design at the Zaporizhzhya NPP and a gross violation of both the terms of the license for the operation of the plant and international requirements in the field of nuclear and radiation safety,” Energoatom said in the statement

“Energoatom assumes that such actions of the invaders may indicate that they are preparing a terrorist act using nuclear materials and radioactive waste stored at ZNPP site,” the report concluded.

The statement came on the same day Russia’s Deputy U.N. Ambassador Dmitry Polyanskiy told the U.N. Security Council that he shared evidence with his Western counterparts proving that Ukraine is the one planning to use radioactive explosives.

“I don’t mind people saying that Russia is crying wolf if this doesn’t happen because this is a terrible, terrible disaster that threatens potentially the whole of the Earth,” Polyanskiy told reporters on the sidelines of the summit. The United States, Britain, and France have voiced suspicions that Moscow’s claims are merely a false flag pretext for escalating the war to involve nuclear weapons.

Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelenskyy previously said the allegation exposes Moscow’s own plan to use a radioactive explosive.

Biden: Russia’s use of nuclear weapons would be ‘serious mistake’

President Biden said that Russia would be making a “serious mistake” if it chose to deploy a tactical nuclear weapon. Speaking to reporters at the White House after receiving his COVID booster shot Tuesday, Biden said he “spent a lot of time today talking about that” in response to a reporter’s question about Russia’s intentions, Reuters reported.

“Let me just say Russia would be making [an] incredibly serious mistake if it were to use a tactical nuclear weapon,” he said. “I’m not guaranteeing that it’s a false flag operation yet. We don’t know. It would be a serious, serious mistake.”

Russia begins nuclear exercises in show of force amid NATO drills

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday observed drills of the country’s strategic nuclear forces. The exercises coincide with NATO’S own nuclear exercises dubbed “Steadfast Moon.” Russia’s drills involve ballistic and cruise missile practice launches, which Kremlin Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said are intended to simulate a “massive nuclear strike” that would be used in retaliation for a nuclear attack on Russia.

Russia typically conducts such exercises in the fall, so the announcement was expected. However, the news underscores heightened global tensions, particularly in the wake of Putin’s previous statement that he was “not bluffing” in his threats to use “all available means of destruction” in defending Russian territory, including annexed regions in Ukraine.

A senior Defense Department official told reporters on Tuesday that the U.S. has not seen evidence that Russia plans “to employ nuclear weapons.”

Epic battle on horizon in annexed Kherson region

Russian forces are digging into their positions in preparation for the “heaviest of battles” in the Russian-annexed region of Kherson in Ukraine’s south, according to Ukrainian officials. 

Ukrainian forces have managed to drive Russian forces back in recent weeks as Kremlin forces face the growing risk of becoming trapped on the west bank of the Dnipro River.

Russian-installed authorities have been encouraging residents to flee to the east bank, but Oleksiy Arestovych, an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, said Russian forces show no signs of planning to leave the city.

“With Kherson everything is clear. The Russians are replenishing, strengthening their grouping there,” Arestovych said in an online video late on Tuesday.

“It means that nobody is preparing to withdraw. On the contrary, the heaviest of battles is going to take place for Kherson.”

Among the four provinces Russian President Vladimir Putin proclaimed annexed last month, Kherson holds the greatest strategic significance since it controls the only land route to the Crimean Peninsula Russia annexed in 2014.