Vladimir Putin’s rumoured plot to sabotage Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant with explosives will start a nuclear war if he succeeds, a Ukrainian former minister fears.
Volodymyr Zelensky, Ukraine’s President, last week accused Moscow of planting “objects resembling explosives” on top of the facility, in the south of the country, which Russian troops have occupied since the start of the war.
Speaking on Monday, Herman Halushchenko, the country’s Minister of Energy, claimed Putin was ready to use ZNPP as a “tool” against Ukraine, saying: “There are no red lines for Russia.”
Commenting on the ongoing tensions, Yuriy Kostenko, Ukraine’s former Minister for Environmental Protection and Nuclear Safety, told Express.co.uk: “Terror under a foreign flag is a common practice for the Russian Federation.
“Putin began his presidency by blowing up residential buildings in the suburbs of Moscow to justify the start of the second Chechen war, blaming the explosions on ‘Chechen terrorists’. The same is happening in Ukraine.”
Given Russia’s ongoing occupation of ZNPP, Mr Kostenko urged his country’s leaders to “hold negotiations with the West” to prevent what he called the “worst scenario”.
He explained: “After all, the introduction of tactical nuclear weapons into the territory of Belarus is a rather theoretical threat to the security of NATO and the start of a nuclear war.
“And what can happen at the ZNPP – especially since Ukrainian troops are now continuing their offensive with the goal of liberating both Zaporizhzhia region and Energodar – is becoming the number one nuclear threat not only for Ukraine, but for the whole world.”
The international community ill-afford to turn a blind eye, Mr Kostenko emphasised, adding: “The whole world must stop Putin’s nuclear madness, because if this does not happen, there will be a Third World Thermonuclear War.
“There are various channels of communication with the leadership of Russia both in the West and in autocracies.
“When Putin began threatening Ukraine with tactical nuclear weapons last year, the West, China, and India declared the inadmissibility of nuclear war.
“Deliberate detonation of the ZNPP is also a nuclear war, and all geopolitical players, although they do not talk about it, understand very well what consequences it will lead to.
“And so they will find arguments for crazy Putin and his entourage.
“After all, no one even in Russia wants to die for the ambitions of their tsar.”
Mr Kostenko also highlighted a bipartisan legislation currently passing through the US Congress.
He said: “The essence of the draft law is: the use of nuclear weapons in the war of the Russian Federation against Ukraine and the detonation of the ZNPP should be considered an attack on NATO because radiation does not recognise borders.”
Prior to Tuesday’s (July 11) NATO summit in the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius, Mr Zelensky voiced his disappointment about the status of his country’s bid to join the alliance.
He tweeted: “We value our allies. Ukraine also deserves respect.
“It’s unprecedented and absurd when time frame is not set neither for the invitation nor for Ukraine’s membership.
“Uncertainty is weakness. And I will openly discuss this at the summit.”