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Ukraine’s defense ministry has alleged that Russia plans to carry out some sort of terrorist attack at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, which is now under the control of Russian forces.

It is the latest in a series of claims made by Ukrainian authorities about the risks to Ukraine’s nuclear power infrastructure because of Russia’s invasion, none of which has come to pass.

The Main Intelligence Directorate of the Ministry of Defense claimed on its Facebook page Friday that “the available intelligence says Putin has ordered that his troops to prepare a terror attack at Chernobyl for which the Russian invaders will try to blame Ukraine.”

The directorate also repeated that the plant “remains completely disconnected from the monitoring systems run by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).”

The IAEA said last week that it had not been able to re-establish communication with systems installed to monitor nuclear material and activities at either the Chernobyl or Zaporizhzhia plants following the loss of remote data transmissions from those systems.

IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi said Thursday that the situation at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, occupied by the Russian forces, was degrading as the IAEA was losing “a significant amount of information” on safeguarding monitoring systems.

However, he said he was “quite encouraged […] on one important thing, is that Ukraine and Russian Federation want to work with us, they agree to work with us.”

Grossi met the foreign ministers of both Russia and Ukraine on Thursday.

The Ukrainian nuclear regulatory authority has alleged that personnel at the Chernobyl site “have limited opportunities to communicate, move and carry out full-fledged maintenance and repair work.”

The IAEA said Thursday it had been unable to confirm that power has been restored at the plant.

On Friday, Ukraine’s nuclear power regulator repeated that the electricity supply to the Chernobyl nuclear power station had not been restored, despite claims by Russia and Belarus it was restored on Thursday.

“All objects of Chernobyl Power station located in the exclusion zone continue to be under the control of the aggressor’s military. There is still no electricity supply at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant since 11:22 on 9,03.2022, on or any communication with the personnel on the site,” according to a statement posted Friday on the regulator’s website.
“Regulatory control over the state of nuclear and radiation safety at the Chernobyl NPP site and the exclusion zone territory, as well as control of nuclear materials at the enterprise, is impossible,” it said.

But it noted that a reserve supply of diesel fuel had been provided “to secure emergency power supply to spent nuclear fuel storage facilities.”

The IAEA said earlier this week that there has been “no critical impact” to the safety of Chernobyl, despite loss of power. It tweeted that the “heat load of spent fuel storage pool and volume of cooling water at #Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant sufficient for effective heat removal without need for electrical supply.”

The site has backup emergency diesel generators available should there be a total loss of power.

But Grossi said earlier this week: “I remain gravely concerned about the deteriorating situation in Ukraine, especially about the country’s nuclear power plants, which must be able to continue operating without any safety or security threats.”

And he stressed the “utmost importance that the staff working at the Specialized Enterprise Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant are able to do their job safely and effectively, and that their personal well-being is guaranteed by those who have taken control.”

The Ukrainian Ministry of Defense also alleged Friday that Russian forces had denied a Ukrainian repair team access to Chernobyl. It claimed without evidence offering that “Belarusian specialists” went there posing as nuclear power experts and that Russian saboteurs were arriving to set up a terror attack.

The ministry claimed that “without receiving the desired result from the ground military operation and direct talks, Putin is ready to resort to nuclear blackmail of the international community.”

Both Russia and Ukraine have repeatedly claimed without substantiation that the other side is planning to provoke an incident involving nuclear, chemical or biological agents.

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