July 5, 2022

The United States and its allies criticize Russia at the United Nations over its seizure of a nuclear plant in Ukraine

The United States and its allies criticize Russia at the United Nations over its seizure of a nuclear plant in Ukraine

(Reuters) – The United States and its allies sharply criticized Russia on Friday at the United Nations for its overnight bombing and seizure of Europe’s largest nuclear power plant in Ukraine, and some demanded Moscow not allow such an attack to happen again.

Several of the 15 Security Council envoys expressed “grave concern” and shock, warning of a possible repeat of the 1986 Chernobyl disaster – a nuclear accident in Ukraine when it was part of the then-Soviet Union that was considered the worst in history.

They said the attack was against international humanitarian law and urged Moscow to refrain from any military operations targeting nuclear facilities and to allow Ukrainian personnel to enter the plant to carry out their work.

Register now to get free unlimited access to Reuters.com

“The world narrowly avoided a nuclear catastrophe last night,” Linda Thomas Greenfield, the US ambassador to the United Nations, said at an emergency Security Council meeting held after Russian forces seized the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant in southeastern Ukraine.

“Last night’s Russian attack put Europe’s largest nuclear power plant in grave danger,” Thomas Greenfield said. “It was incredibly reckless and dangerous. It threatened the safety of civilians across Russia, Ukraine and Europe.”

As shells fell on the area in the early hours of Friday morning, a fire broke out in a training building – setting off a wave of alarm around the world before the blaze was put out and officials said the facility was safe. Read more

Ukraine’s ambassador to the United Nations, Sergei Kisletsya, called on all Russian forces to withdraw from the station and the no-fly zone over the country to protect the civilian population from air attacks.

An overview of the United Nations Security Council meeting after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, at United Nations Headquarters in Manhattan, New York City, New York, United States on February 28, 2022. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

Officials remained concerned about the precarious conditions, with Ukrainian personnel operating under Russian control in battlefield conditions out of the officials’ reach.

“France strongly condemns this attack on the integrity of the nuclear structure, which we need to ensure,” said Nicolas de Riviere, in his speech. “The consequences of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine could be devastating to human health and the environment,” he added.

UK Ambassador to the United Nations Barbara Woodward said: “This must not happen again. Even in the midst of the illegal invasion of Ukraine, Russia must distance and protect nuclear sites.”

The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Rafael Grossi, described the situation as “normal processes, but in fact there is nothing normal about this.”

Thousands of people are believed to have been killed or injured and more than a million refugees have fled Ukraine since Russia began its invasion on February 24. Western countries responded with sanctions that pushed Russia into economic isolation.

Russia’s UN envoy, Vassily Nebenzia, has dismissed the Western hype over the nuclear power plant and called Friday’s Security Council meeting for another attempt by the Ukrainian authorities to create “artificial hysteria”.

“At present, the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant and the adjacent territory are guarded by Russian forces,” he said.

Diplomats said France and Mexico were working separately on a UN Security Council resolution next week that would address the humanitarian consequences of the Russian invasion.

Register now to get free unlimited access to Reuters.com

(Covering) By Humira Pamuk and Doina Chiako in Washington Editing by Grant McCall

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.