After the attacks on the Ukrainian nuclear power plant at Zaporizhia in the course of the Ukraine war, President Volodymyr Zelenskyj warned of a nuclear catastrophe and drew comparisons to the Chernobyl catastrophe in 1986. “The world should not forget Chernobyl and remember that the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant is the largest in Europe,” the Ukrainian leader said on Monday.

At the same time, Zelenskyj called for new sanctions against Russia. “New sanctions are needed against the terrorist state and the entire Russian nuclear industry because of the threat of a nuclear catastrophe.” The Zaporizhia nuclear facility in southern Ukraine has come under fire twice in the past few days. Parts of the plant were damaged and a reactor had to be shut down.

According to their own statements, the Russian occupying forces are now stationing air defense systems around the facility. “The power plant’s air defense systems will be strengthened,” Yevgeny Balitsky, head of Moscow’s military administration in the region, said on Russian state television on Tuesday. In the past few days, Moscow and Kyiv have repeatedly blamed each other for attacks on the nuclear power plant. The information cannot be verified independently.

According to Balizki, the power plant is currently operating normally. The reactor’s power lines and damaged blocks have been repaired, he said. The Zaporizhia nuclear power plant has a total of six blocks with a total capacity of 5700 megawatts. According to Ukrainian sources, three blocks were still in operation before the shelling at the weekend.

On Monday, the Center for Strategic Communications and Information Security at the Ministry of Culture and Information Policy of Ukraine tweeted that Russian troops had “wired energy units of the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant with explosives”. The commander of the Russian troops stationed in the power plant had therefore agreed to “blow up the power plant, which would lead to a nuclear catastrophe”.

The Ukrainian authorities quote him as saying: “This will either be Russian land or scorched earth.” He told his soldiers that no matter how difficult the orders might be, they had to carry them out “with honor”. Earlier, a representative of the Ukrainian defense intelligence service had already reported about explosives on the energy units of the power plant, the agency reports.