KYIV — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has warned Russian soldiers who shoot at Europe’s largest nuclear power station or use it as a base to shoot from that they will become a “special target” for Ukrainian forces.
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called for the establishment of a demilitarized zone at the Zaporizhzhia plant in southern Ukraine amid fears of a nuclear catastrophe over renewed shelling in the past days, for which Russia and Ukraine blame each other.
Zelenskiy, who did not give any details, reiterated that he considered Russia was using the plant, which it captured early in the war but is still being run by Ukrainians, as nuclear blackmail.
“Every Russian soldier who either shoots at the plant, or shoots using the plant as cover, must understand that he becomes a special target for our intelligence agents, for our special services, for our army,” he said in an evening address on Saturday.
The Zaporizhzhia plant dominates the south bank of a vast reservoir on the Dnipro River. Ukrainian forces controlling the towns and cities on the opposite bank have come under intense bombardment from the Russian-held side.
Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak accused Russia of “hitting the part of the nuclear power plant where the energy that powers the south of Ukraine is generated.”
“The goal is to disconnect us from the (plant) and blame the Ukrainian army for this,” Podolyak wrote on Twitter.
A foreman who worked at the plant was killed on Sunday by Russian shelling while walking his dog near his home in the city of Enerhodar, Ukraine’s state-run nuclear company Energoatom said.