The RussiaUkraine conflict enters even more dangerous territory, with the possibility of a nuclear disaster looming over our heads. Reports of heavy shelling on the Russian-controlled Zaporozhskaya Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP)- almost twice the size of Chernobyl and the largest in Europe- have been doing the rounds since August 5th. The shellings have provoked international concern, with United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres calling on both sides to allow international inspectors to survey the area and the potential damage caused. Speaking at a ceremony commemorating the victims of Hiroshima on its 77th anniversary on Monday, he labelled the attacks a “suicidal thing.”

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Both sides continue to trade accusations, blaming the other for the shellings. Ukraine points fingers at Russia. Asking for the demilitarization of the Soviet-era plant, they insist on its handover to peacekeeping forces. As per Energoatom, Ukraine’s national energy provider, the Russians were responsible for damage to several buildings, raising fears of radiation leaks and fires. The Russian Defence Ministry pinned the blame on the Ukrainians, arguing that their artillery hit the plant, damaging power lines that serve the oblasts of Zaporizhzhia and Kherson in Southeast Ukraine. The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs released a timeline of events on their official Telegram channel, demanding that international agencies “ensure immediate cessation of Ukrainian attacks on ZPPP.”

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While the differing claims remain unverified, Enerhodar- the plant’s location- has been under Russian control since the early days of the war. It is unlikely the Russian military will bombard the territories it controls, thereby raising suspicions of a Ukrainian counteroffensive responsible for the shellings. In a recent report, Amnesty International- also condemning Russian military tactics- accused the Ukrainian armed forces of endangering civilians via their methods. From establishing military bases in buildings in residential areas- schools, hospitals, etc.- to launching strikes from similar locations, Ukrainian forces aren’t as clean-cut as Western media would like us to believe.