Are the Russians preparing to blow up the Ukrainian nuclear plant?

Daniel Bootman
4 min readJul 18, 2023

Over the past weeks, our Ukrainian partners have repeatedly informed the EU countries about the upcoming Russian provocation, the purpose of which is to blow up the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant. In the event of such an action, Europe will face an ecological catastrophe comparable to the consequences of the explosion at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in 1986.

The signals sent by the Ukrainian side caused alarm not only in Brussels and European capitals, but also in the United States. As early as July 1st, a special aircraft WC-135R Constant Phoenix arrived at the Greek Souda AB air base from the United States, designed to analyze the atmosphere for the presence of radiation, chemical and bacterial contamination. The location of the base allows you to track the beginning of a potential disaster as quickly as possible

The head of the IAEA, Rafael Grossi, also expressed great concern, who immediately visited Zaporizhzhia together with his best specialists.

However, the studies conducted by civil and military services did not confirm the fears of the Ukrainian side. Rafael Grossi, in an interview with a France 24 journalist, said that he and his inspectors did not observe any deployment of Russian troops inside the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant. According to him, the situation at the nuclear power plant was “serious” but stabilized after the destruction of the nearby Kakhovka Dam, the water from which was used to cool the plant’s six reactors. He explained that the station management had taken appropriate measures to conserve the required amount of water. Grossi denied Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s claim that Russia was planning to blow up the nuclear power plant. The head of the IAEA specifically emphasized that he “did not see such a development of events” at the station. “Our teams are there and report every day.”

A similar position was taken by American military experts, who also regularly monitor the situation around the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant.

The very fact that the station could be blown up by Russian forces raises certain questions. The fact is that the local “wind rose” is such that the radiation cloud formed after the explosion of the nuclear power plant will cover, first of all, the eastern regions of Ukraine controlled by Russia, including Crimea, which is a sacred place for Vladimir Putin. This Russian “tsar” can be accused of a variety of sins and crimes, but he has never positioned himself as an outright madman who wants to destroy the population of the territories that were annexed by Russia with such difficulty. If the Russians wanted to carry out “nuclear genocide” in the region, they could do so by destroying the Chernobyl sarcophagus. Putin’s troops have controlled the Chernobyl area for a long time, and nothing prevented them from doing so.

If the Russians really are not going to blow up the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, which they control, then for what reason does the Ukrainian side accuse them of this?

The first reason is obvious. For the upcoming NATO summit, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky needs serious arguments to get a new package of Western aid, as well as new types of weapons, including F-16 combat aircraft. Threats to blow up a nuclear power plant by the Russians could be such an argument.

The second possible reason is much more sinister. In response to the accusations of the Ukrainian side, the Russian authorities, in turn, accused Kyiv of preparing a provocation at the nuclear power plant. In the West, no one has believed the official statements of the Russian government for a long time. However, in this case, it may be worth listening to the Kremlin’s concerns. The explosion of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant would lead to the collapse of the Russian defense system, the contamination of the Ukrainian territories occupied by Russia. By blaming Moscow for this, Ukraine could further increase funding and military assistance from the West, as well as embroil Putin and Erdogan, since the consequences of the explosion would threaten not only Eastern Ukraine, but also the territory of Turkey.

Such fears are due to the existing negative precedent for the destruction of the Kakhovka Dam. Immediately after this ecological tragedy, the Western media blamed the Russians for it. However, the course of subsequent events showed that the destruction of the hydroelectric power station significantly worsened the defense capabilities of the Russian army. A wave of water covered, first of all, the left bank of the Dnieper, where Russian fortified points and minefields were located. Almost the entire system of Russian defensive structures in this area was destroyed. The water has subsided, and after the bottom of the reservoir completely dries up, the Ukrainian troops will be able to go on a large-scale offensive in this sector of the front. These facts suggest that the destruction of the dam was carried out not by the Russian military, as previously thought, but by the forces of Ukrainian intelligence and the Ukrainian armed forces. Instead of conducting an international investigation into this incident, the EU and the US chose not to notice this. Such behavior of the leaders of the Western world is creating certain risks and an unfavorable precedent in the event of a potential catastrophe at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant

We express our sincere hope that Volodymyr Zelensky and his entourage are pragmatic enough to prevent such a development of events. In any case, the leadership of the EU, NATO and the White House should warn Kyiv about the possible consequences of such a step. If Ukraine plans to join the European Union, it must behave accordingly.