Aug 20, 2022 - World

Ukraine says Russia is planning "false flag" attack at nuclear plant

A screen grab captured from a video shows a view of Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.
A screen grab captured from a video shows a view of Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant. Photo: Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Fears of an impending attack on a nuclear power plant in southeastern Ukraine prompted residents in the area to flee Friday, the Washington Post reports.

Why it matters: Repeated warnings from Ukrainian and Russian officials indicate a potential attack is planned for the Zaporizhzhia station, which could cause a radioactive disaster that impacts the whole region.

  • Ukrainian families near Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine, fled to Bulgaria and Germany due to fresh concerns of an attack on the plant, according to the Post.

Driving the news: Both sides say the other is preparing to launch a "false flag" attack on the plant, per the Post.

  • The area around the plant has come under heavy fire in recent weeks, BBC News reports.
  • Ukrainian officials said Russia was behind the latest strikes and explosions at the plant, which is the largest nuclear power station in Europe, per the Post.
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin blamed Ukraine for the strikes, warning an attack could create "a large-scale catastrophe that could lead to radiation contamination," Reuters reports.

Between the lines: Russia captured the nuclear plant in March, but Ukrainians still run it, Reuters reports.

What they're saying: Earlier this month, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres called for a demilitarized zone around the plant.

  • He told President Volodymyr Zelensky and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that “any potential damage to Zaporizhzhia is suicide."
  • Oksana Markarova, Ukraine's ambassador to the U.S., told CBS News Friday that the nuclear plant situation is "very, very tense."
  • The Biden administration has called on Russian and unauthorized personnel to leave the station, she said.

What's next: Putin agreed on Friday to allow the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to inspect the nuclear power plant.

  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky urged the United Nations to "ensure the security" of the plant, too.

Go deeper: The latest on the Russian invasion of Ukraine

Go deeper