Russia captured the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant in the opening days of the war on March 3rd of this year when Russian troops fought it out with Ukrainian security forces at Europe’s largest nuclear power plant which supplies 25% of Ukraine’s electricity.

Ukraine’s security forces were routed and Russian troops took control of the facility.  On March 12th, the Ukrainian technicians running the nuclear facility were informed that the power plant was now owned by Rosatom, the nuclear power company of the Russian Federation.  The staff were informed that they would be remaining at the plant to run it for the new owners indefinitely.

No choice.

Since that time the plant workers and their families have lived as virtual hostages.

Russian troops began to fortify the area around the plant and used it to station a battery of self-propelled guns, believing that the presence of 6 nuclear reactors nearby would shield them from counter-battery fire from Ukraine.  Instead, Ukraine attacked the Russian forces with switchblade drones, able to target tanks, trucks, and other targets with small warheads unlikely to do any damage to the reactors.

Concerned about conditions at the plant, including its required maintenance and safety procedures being followed, the UN and the International Atomic Energy Agency demanded access to the plant with a team of inspectors.  The Russians welcomed the inspectors saying they would see Russian troops protecting the plant and accused Ukraine of shelling it.  Ukraine was against the inspection because of fears it would legitimize Russia’s seizure and theft of the nuclear plant.

That is a problem, in violation of all kinds of international conventions and protocols, the Russians have stationed military assets inside the facility in close proximity to the reactor buildings, all but daring the Ukrainians to bomb them.  And Ukraine could, those trucks and armored personnel carriers are legitimate military targets, its on the Russians not to locate them close to civilian homes and things like nuclear reactor plants, but instead they are using them as shields to protect these military targets from bombing.