Europe faces nuclear catastrophe from Ukrainian terrorism

Russia’s domestic intelligence service FSB has announced that it has foiled several Ukrainian terrorist attacks on Russian nuclear power plants. What dangers could such attacks pose and what can Russia do to stop Ukraine’s nuclear terrorism?

By Darya Volkova and Yevgeny Pozdnyakov

On Thursday it became known that in the run-up to May 9, the Russian domestic secret service FSB was able to thwart an attempt by the Ukrainian foreign secret service to blow up more than 30 electricity pylons at two nuclear power plants in the Leningrad and Tver regions. The terrorists managed to blow up one power pole and mine four other power poles of the Leningrad nuclear power plant, and bombed seven power poles of the Kalinin nuclear power plant.

Russian security forces arrested the members of the sabotage group: the Ukrainian nationals Alexandr Majstruk, born in 1978, nickname “Mechanic”, and Eduard Ussatenko, born in 1974, nickname “Max”. In addition, the Russian citizen Yuri Kishchak, born in 1963, given the nickname “JuBK”, was put out for a manhunt. According to the investigators, he is currently in Belgium.

The FSB explained that the saboteurs were recruited in September 2022 by an employee of the Ukrainian foreign intelligence service, Colonel Vitaly Gorbatyuk, and trained in camps in the Kiev and Nikolayev regions. They later entered Belarus from Ukraine via Poland, illegally crossing the Russian-Belarusian border in the Pskov region.

Two of the saboteurs’ henchmen were also arrested – Russian citizens who provided the perpetrators with telephones and cars with forged numbers. 36.5 kilograms of C-4 plastic explosives, 61 electro-detonators, 38 timers and two PM pistols and ammunition were seized from those arrested.

According to the FSB, the explosives were smuggled in by international freight forwarders from the Polish city of Chełm to Šalčininkai in Lithuania and from there via Belarus to the Rzhev district of the Russian Tver region. A trailer equipped with secret compartments was used for camouflage.

The saboteurs were charged under the Russian Criminal Code’s crimes of “sabotage” and “illegal acquisition, transfer, disposal, storage, transport, shipment or carrying of explosives or explosive devices”. The first article provides for up to 20 years imprisonment, the second between six and eight years imprisonment.

A video released by the FSB shows the Ukrainian saboteurs setting up a hideout with explosives, detonators and timers. Another video shows an explosive device attached to a power pole, downed power poles and finally the arrest of the suspects. The saboteurs later revealed where they kept the explosives and components for making explosive devices.

Russian Presidential Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the attempted sabotage of the Leningrad and Kalinin nuclear power plants testified to ongoing hostilities in Kiev. He emphasized that terrorists are responsible for the sabotage attempt and that Russian law enforcement agencies continue to fight the terrorists.

However, this was not Ukraine’s first attempt to damage Russian nuclear facilities. The target of most attacks has long been the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant, which the Ukrainian military has frequently shelled. This is also pointed out by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), whose inspectors are in the power plant.

The head of the IAEA, Rafael Grossi, explained at the beginning of May that the situation around the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant was becoming increasingly unpredictable and dangerous. The IAEA chief was extremely concerned about the “quite real risks to nuclear and physical security to which the nuclear power plant is exposed”. The shelling by Kiev’s military is not the only threat emanating from Ukraine.

IAEA chief Grossi visiting the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant: the risk situation is not improving

IAEA chief Grossi visiting the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant: the risk situation is not improving

A possible dam failure due to the largest flood in the Kakhovka reservoir to date could lead to the flooding of the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant site. The advisor to the head of the Russian atomic energy agency Rosatom, Renat Karchaa, warned of this. According to him, cable lines for cooling ponds and pumping stations could be flooded, causing “functional problems in the operation” of the nuclear power plant and risks to nuclear safety. The newspaper Vsglyad analyzed at the time how Ukraine was preparing a second Fukushima on the Dnieper.

Experts are sure that the possible consequences of such acts of sabotage and attacks by Ukraine are known, but ignored. In the event of an accident at the nuclear power plant, not only Russia would be affected, but also a number of European countries. Therefore, an immediate international response to Ukraine’s actions is urgently needed.

“We see absolute disregard for the rules of international nuclear safety. Unlike our opponent, we are trying to exclude all nuclear objects from hostilities as part of the special operation. Ukraine, on the other hand, does not seem to have any stop signals,” said Alexei Anpilogov, Nuclear energy expert and President of the Foundation for Scientific Research and Development of Civil Initiatives “Osnovaniye”.

“Any sabotage of a nuclear power plant is an extremely dangerous idea. It should be understood that there are also a number of systems outside the power plant that are essential to its operation. Their failure can seriously impair the safety of the power plant itself. The power lines serve primarily In addition, in the event of an emergency, a nuclear power plant uses the lines to supply electricity to its own systems,” the expert added.

Russian Defense Ministry warns of Ukrainian provocation in Chernobyl

Russian Defense Ministry warns of Ukrainian provocation in Chernobyl

“Their supply is thus diverted to the external power lines when the reactor, which supplies energy to the main pumps via its turbines, comes to a standstill. A failure of the power lines in itself is unpleasant, but not critical. The nuclear power plant has to undergo a so-called hot stop do, that is, shut down the reactors and stop feeding in electricity. This leads to controlled power cuts for consumers,” explained Ampilogov.

“But if there is an attack or a blast on the territory of the power plant itself, or, for example, the backup diesel generators are damaged, this will bring the power plant very close to a nuclear accident. Of course, the Leningrad and Kalinin NPPs are equipped with new reactors that are resistant to such failures. However, there is still a fundamental danger,” says Ampilogow.

“If a terrorist attack was successfully carried out, it would undoubtedly have consequences not only for Russia, but also for European countries. For example, the Baltic States are still connected to us by an energy ring. The Baltic countries would be directly affected by an accident at the Leningrad NPP. The consequences would be less serious for other European countries, because they hardly ever get electricity from Russia anymore,” explained the expert.

“Moreover, if the adversary damaged the reactor or other essential parts of the plant, a nuclear accident would probably be inevitable. Then the wind direction would determine who would suffer the most. Finland, Sweden, Denmark would be within range of Leningrad NPP , Germany, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia – countries to which the wind could carry the radioactive emission.”

Why EU sanctions against Russia's nuclear industry can only fail


Why EU sanctions against Russia’s nuclear industry can only fail

“The attempted sabotage of the Leningrad and Kalinin NPPs once again confirms a well-known fact: Ukrainian terrorism flourishes at the state level. Criminals do not shy away from nuclear threats that could cause major technical disasters and affect the whole of Europe,” said Konstantin Dolgov, the member of the Federation Council and former Deputy Ambassador of Russia to the UN, told the newspaper Vsglyad.

“Obviously, the shelling of the Zaporozhye NPP was just the beginning, a kind of warm-up before further targets. Therefore, our country acts in the role of a global protector. We want to eliminate terrorists who not only attack Russian citizens, but also not before the cause shy away from global emergencies,” he noted.

“Of course, without international cooperation, it will be difficult to defeat such brazen criminals. But even in the western countries there are people, including politicians, who are beginning to understand who the EU and the USA are supporting. Europeans’ eyes are slowly starting to close open and we’ll try our best to convey the truth to them,” Dolgow said.

“Russia appears in the UN, in the IAEA, shows concrete examples of terrorist attacks. Of course we encounter strong resistance. This comes from Washington, among others, which has become the main lobbyist for the crimes of the Zelensky regime. Unfortunately, the influence of the USA remains very strong, because many countries are simply afraid of defying the hegemon,” emphasized the senator.

“Nevertheless, we consider the situation that has arisen soberly. We know that our cause is fair. Therefore, we will not stop conveying our view of events. Russia is carefully and gradually eliminating a global threat, and the actions of the FSB to thwart an international The tragedy at the nuclear power plant shows once again that we are working effectively,” concluded Dolgow.

Translated from Russian and first published by Vzglyad.

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