The US ambassador to the United Nations said Friday that Russia’s “reckless” attack last night on a nuclear power plant in Ukraine is a dangerous escalation that “represents a serious threat to all of Europe and the world.”
“Thank God, the world narrowly escaped a nuclear catastrophe last night,” Linda Thomas Greenfield told the Security Council.
“Last night’s Russian attack put Europe’s largest nuclear power plant in grave danger,” said Thomas Greenfield.
“It was incredibly reckless and dangerous,” she said. “It threatened the safety of civilians across Russia, Ukraine and Europe.”
“Nuclear facilities cannot become part of this conflict,” Thomas Greenfield said.
She urged Russian President Vladimir Putin to end the invasion of Ukraine.
“Not only did he not listen, we just witnessed a dangerous new escalation that represented a grave threat to all of Europe and the world,” Thomas Greenfield said.
“President Putin must stop this humanitarian catastrophe by ending this war and stop these unreasonable attacks against the people of Ukraine,” she said. “Mr. Putin must stop this madness and stop it now.”
Moscow’s ambassador to the United Nations denied accusations that Russian forces had bombed Europe’s largest atomic power plant in Zaporizhia.
“These statements are simply incorrect,” Vasily Nebenzia told the Security Council. “This is all part of an unprecedented campaign of lies and disinformation against Russia.”
He said Russian forces had exchanged small arms fire with Ukrainian forces in Zaporizhia, but had not bombed the facility in southern Ukraine.
He said the fighting took place at a training complex “just outside the territory of the nuclear power plant” and accused “Ukrainian saboteurs” of setting the training facility on fire.
“The operation of the nuclear power plant continues as normal,” Nebenzia said. “Nothing threatens the safety of the six power units.
There is no threat of radioactive material being released.”
Ukraine requests a no-fly zone
Sergei Kislitsya, Ukraine’s envoy to the United Nations, criticized his Russian counterpart, accusing him of spreading “lies”.
He said that Russian forces controlling the nuclear facility were refusing entry to Ukrainian inspectors.
Kisslitsya also formally called on the United Nations to establish a no-fly zone over Ukraine.
“Imposing a ban on all flights in the airspace of Ukraine should be a top priority of the Security Council,” he said.
NATO has already ruled out a no-fly zone over Ukraine, and Russia will veto any such proposal in the Security Council.
In the meantime, Zhang Jun, China’s envoy to the United Nations, called on the international community to “remain calm and rational.”
“Any measure should contribute to de-escalation and diplomatic settlement, instead of pouring oil on the fire, which leads to further escalation and deterioration of the situation,” the Chinese ambassador said.
Rosemary DiCarlo, UN Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, told the council that attacks on nuclear power facilities were “inconsistent with international humanitarian law”.
Speaking to the council from a plane on a flight to Iran, Rafael Grossi, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said he was ready to travel to Ukraine to ensure the security of the country’s nuclear facilities.
“This mission will be strictly limited and constrained by the safety and security of nuclear facilities in Ukraine,” Grossi said.