The Western Ukrainian power plant in Khmelnytsky suffered minor damage from a suspected Russian drone attack, revealed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. According to him, Shahed drones, Iranian in design, targeted the power facility in the pre-dawn hours of Wednesday.
Though windows were shattered and 20 people were wounded, the assault did not significantly disrupt the plant’s operations, resulting in only superficial harm. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) corroborated this, emphasizing that the plant’s functioning remained undisturbed.
Powerful detonations were experienced in the vicinity of Ukraine’s Khmelnytsky nuclear plant, according to a statement made by Rafael Grossi, the Director-General of the IAEA. He used this incident to highlight the potential nuclear safety threats instigated by the ongoing war.
The Khmelnytsky power plant houses two reactors, one of which is currently operational, while the other has been going through a planned outage since August. The potential for conflicts impacting nuclear power plants has been a constant concern since Russia’s initial invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.
Russian forces have held sway at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant in eastern Ukraine since March 2022 – an act for which Kyiv condemns Russia, accusing the nation of risking a radiation leak through shellings and dubbing it as “nuclear terror”. That being said, no major accidents have transpired since the full-scale invasion commenced last year.
Commenting on the Khmelnytsky incident, Zelensky indicated it as evidence of the need for Ukraine’s air defences to acquire additional support from international allies. He also implicated Western companies and countries in supplying components for Russian drones and missiles. He used the Khmelnytsky strike to exemplify the potential perils of Russia circumventing international sanctions.
Germany proactively responded to this escalating situation on Tuesday, when Chancellor Olaf Scholz declared a €1.4bn aid package for Ukraine, which includes missile defence systems. Scholz expressed this as an attempt to form a “protective shield” around Ukrainian infrastructure amid Russian threats to weaponize the cold and energy shortages against the civilians.
Separate intelligence inputs from Ukraine on Thursday suggest a lethal bombing of a vehicle in Berdyansk, in the Zaporizhzhia region. The car was believed to be carrying four agents from Russia’s FSB security service. Russian media reported at least one fatality from this speculated explosion.
This incident adds to the growing number of assaults on Russian officials and collaborators in occupied Ukraine. Back in September, a fatal car bombing claimed the life of Vladimir Malov, a United Russia party member closely associated with Russian President Vladimir Putin, in the Kherson region.