Zelensky Addresses ‘Everyone Who Knows the Word Chernobyl’ As Russia Attacks Nuclear Plant

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  • Zelensky urged world leaders to do more to avoid a repeat of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.
  • He said Russia’s targeting of Europe’s largest nuclear plant is bringing the world closer to nuclear destruction.
  • Experts said radiation levels near the site haven’t increased and essential equipment at the plant seems intact.

In a video shared to Telegram early Friday morning, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky urged world leaders and European citizens to do more to avoid a repeat of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.

Zelensky’s plea came as a building fire broke out during a fierce fight between Russian and Ukrainian troops near the Ukrainian nuclear plant Zaporizhzhia. The facility is the largest nuclear plant in Europe.

“I address all Ukrainians, all Europeans, everyone who knows the word ‘Chernobyl,’ everyone who knows how many victims that explosion of a nuclear plant brought,” Zelensky said in Ukrainian.

“Russia wants to relive it and is already doing it,” he added.

The Chernobyl disaster of 1986 is widely considered the worst nuclear disaster in history. When the core of a reactor opened at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine, plumes of radioactive material were sent into the air. Local vegetation and water supply was contaminated, while nearby residents, some of who went on to develop cancer, were poisoned.

Friday’s fire near the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant occurred as Russian and Ukrainian troops were locked in a fierce fight in the area. Reuters reported that Russian forces struck a training building outside of the plant’s perimeter.

Zelensky warned that a disaster at Zaproizhzhia could potentially be worse than Chernobyl. There are six reactors at Zaproizhzhia. Chernobyl had four, but only one exploded during the 1986 disaster.

The Ukrainian president also said Russia’s actions are bringing the world closer to nuclear destruction.

Zelensky said in the same video that Ukraine has reached out to US and European leaders for helping stopping Russian troops.

Soon after Zelensky shared his video, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed on Twitter that he had spoken with Zelensky and added that “Russia must immediately cease its attack on the power station and allow unfettered access for emergency services to the plant.”

The US has not detected elevated levels of radiation near Zaproizhzhia, US Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said on Twitter. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said that essential equipment at Zaporizhzhia wasn’t affected by the fire, and staff are trying to respond to the situation at the plant.

Russian troops seized Chernobyl last week. While Ukrainian officials warned of an “ecological threat,” nuclear experts told Insider they weren’t too concerned about a major release of radiation at Chernobyl.

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