ZAPORIZHIA, UKRAINE — Russia has told workers at the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant not to come to work on Friday, Ukrainian military intelligence told NBC News.
This comes amid claims and speculation from both Russia and Ukraine that an incident is planned at the factory on Friday.
On Thursday, Russia threatened to shut down factories and warned of the risk of man-made disaster due to alleged continued shelling by Ukraine.
But Ukraine is a completely different story, according to Andriy Yusov, spokesman for the Main Intelligence Service of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine.
“We have new information that arrived about 30 minutes ago. It is that tomorrow, Aug. 19, there will be orders not to go to work for the majority of our staff,” Yusof told NBC News EXCLUSIVELY. rice field.
“This is what the Russians said to their people, mainly Rosatom employees,” he said, referring to the Russian Atomic Energy Agency.
He said this could be evidence that Russia is preparing a “massive provocation” at the power plant on Friday.
“I do not rule out the possibility of a large-scale Russian provocation tomorrow on the territory of the ZNPP. This is confirmed by their propaganda, information from our sources and the actions of the Russians at the station. ‘, he added, referring to the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant.
Russia has refused to confirm or deny whether Rosatom personnel are stationed in Zaporizhia.
Earlier on Thursday, the Russian Defense Ministry accused Ukraine and what it called its “US handlers” of trying to cause a “minor accident” at a factory in southern Ukraine on Friday to blame Russia.
He said the “provocation” was in conjunction with a visit to Ukraine by UN Secretary-General António Guterres and may have been linked to a radiation leak.
because of the deal
Europe’s largest Zaporizhia nuclear reactor facility was occupied by Russia shortly after it invaded Ukraine almost half a year ago, and has been repeatedly bombarded due to deals in both Moscow and Kyiv.
Russia has repeatedly accused the Ukrainian military of recklessly firing on the factory, but Ukraine alleges that Russia deliberately uses the facility as a base to launch attacks on its citizens.
NBC News has not confirmed either side’s claims.
A senior Ukrainian official told Reuters that the simplest solution to the situation would be for Russian forces to withdraw from the factory, remove all ammunition stored there and demine it.
Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov told reporters on Thursday that Moscow was taking steps to ensure the security of the complex, denying it deployed heavy weapons in and around the factory. did.
However, the ministry said an attempt could be made to close the factory if Ukrainian forces continued to shell it.
Igor Kirillov, head of Russia’s Radiological, Chemical and Biological Defense Forces, said in a briefing that the plant’s backup support system was damaged as a result of the shelling.
Kirillov presented a slide showing that in the event of an accident at the power plant, radioactive material would cover Germany, Poland and Slovakia.