Enough Isn’t Enough

It seems the Russians can’t leave Ukrainians  well enough alone.

The New York Times reported this week, the Russian forces resumed bombing the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Station in Ukraine. The nuclear facility is the largest of its kind in Europe and one of the ten largest in the world.

The plant is located outside the city of Enerhodar, part of the Zaporizhzhia Oblast, in Russian-controlled southeastern Ukraine. As a reminder, “Oblasts” are what Ukrainians call their provinces, which are roughly analogous to states.

The most recent attacks follow shelling on Saturday that, according to Financial Times (FT), “damaged radiation sensors after striking close to a storage facility for spent fuel at Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant.” At that time, the owner/operator of the plant, Ukraine’s state nuclear power company Energoatom put out a statement on the social media platform Telegram saying, “The situation is getting worse because there are radiation sources very close by. As a result, several radiation sensors were damaged.”

Fortunately, no radiation leaks were detected.

Screenshot of Telegram post collected by the author.

More of the Blame Game

In a somewhat troubling recent trend, both sides are blaming each other for shelling the massive power plant. Two weeks ago, each side blamed the other for an attack on a Russian POW camp housing 193 people. Fifty-three Ukrainian prisoners of war taken from the steelworks in Mariupol were killed in the attacks.

Last Sunday, Russia’s Interfax news agency quoted Russian occupying forces claiming the Zaporizhzhia reactor was shelled by Ukrainians. They followed on and said an area where spent nuclear fuel was kept was impacted. Shortly after the Russian accusation, Energoatom claimed publicly that it was Russian rockets that hit the plant.

Why would the Russians make such claims about the Ukrainians trying to destroy their own infrastructure? To make the fog of war denser, as if things aren’t confusing enough. The Russians have nothing to lose by accusing their enemy of the attack. There remain pockets of Russian sympathizers in portions of Ukraine, especially to the east and near the Russian border. The statements are likely intended to have the “See, I told you so” effect by making the Ukrainians look like the bad guys. It’s a tool of psychological warfare.