Russia has been accused of firing missiles from Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, despite warnings that retaliation could lead to a Chernobyl-style disaster.
The Zaporozhye plant was occupied by Russian troops at the beginning of the war in early March, but is still managed by Ukrainian technicians.
There are now reports of missiles being fired over the Dnieper River in southern Ukraine using heavy artillery near Zaporozhye.
While Russia has denied launching a strike from the power station, reports from Ukraine suggest that military trucks were seen entering and leaving the power station.
Experts said it was “highly likely” that the truck was unloading ammunition.
Just as the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) warned that the situation in Zaporozhye was “completely out of control” and was getting more dangerous every day.
Rafael Grossi said the “incomplete” communications from the Zaporozhye facility and his organization’s inability to access the site were deeply concerning.
“The stakes are high, extremely serious and dangerous,” he said.
The IAEA director general stressed that the plant was going through “a series of things that should never happen to any nuclear facility”.
“That’s why I’ve insisted from day one that we have to be able to go there to do safety and security assessments, make repairs and assist, as we did in Chernobyl,” he said.
In addition to the strike from the factory, the power station was reportedly attacked by recriminations from both sides.
Ukraine’s state nuclear power company said three radiation sensors at the facility were damaged in another shelling by Russian troops on Saturday night and shrapnel wounded a worker.
Energoatom said Russia’s latest rocket attack hit the plant’s dry storage facility, which stores 174 containers of spent nuclear fuel in the open.
“As a result, timely detection and response is impossible in the event of a deteriorating radiation situation or radiation leakage from a spent nuclear fuel container,” it said.
Meanwhile, Moscow said Ukraine used a 220mm Uragan multiple rocket launcher system to attack the Russian-installed occupied Enerhodar administration, where the plant’s employees live.
Mr Grossi said Friday’s shelling showed the risk of a nuclear catastrophe. The shells hit high-voltage power lines, and although no radioactive leaks were detected, operators at the plant disconnected the reactor.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky tweeted: “Russian nuclear terror requires a stronger international response – sanctions on Russia’s nuclear industry and fuel.”