Russian forces closing in on another major Ukrainian nuclear plant

Business Insider US
Ukrainian troops exercise as they simulate a crisis situation in an urban settlement, in the abandoned city of Pripyat near the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, Ukraine, Feb. 4, 2022.
Mykola Tymchenko/AP
  • Russian forces are dangerously close to Ukraine's second-largest nuclear plant in Yuzhnoukrainsk, officials warned.
  • Troops are 20 miles away from Zaporizhzhia and closing in, the US ambassador to the UN said Friday.
  • Russia previously attacked and seized Ukraine's largest nuclear plant in Zaporizhzhia.
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Russian troops are coming dangerously close to another Ukrainian nuclear plant after their "incredibly reckless" seizure of the plant in Zaporizhzhia.

Ukraine's second-largest nuclear plant in Yuzhnoukrainsk, some 350 km (or about 215 miles) south of Kyiv, is facing "imminent danger," the US ambassador to the UN said. 

"Russian forces are now 20 miles, and closing, from Ukraine's second-largest nuclear facility. So this imminent danger continues," ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield said Friday at a UN Security Council emergency meeting.

Russian troops previously attacked and seized Europe's largest nuclear plant in Zaporizhzhia, leading to a fire at the plant amid intense fighting. The plant provides a quarter of Ukraine's electricity. 

Thomas-Greenfield said Friday that the attack was "incredibly reckless and dangerous." 

"By the grace of God, the world narrowly averted a nuclear catastrophe last night," she said Friday. "It threatened the safety of civilians across Russia, Ukraine, and Europe."

Russia captured six of Ukraine's 15 nuclear reactors in its seizure of Zaporizhzhia. Thomas-Greenfield lambasted Russia for sending its troops on "a suicide mission against a nuclear power plant."

"Nuclear facilities cannot become part of this conflict," she said. "Russia must halt any further use of force that might put at further risk all 15 operable reactors across Ukraine – or interfere with Ukraine's ability to maintain the safety and security of its 37 nuclear facilities and their surrounding populations."

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told world leaders in a Facebook post that they needed to stop Russia "before this becomes a nuclear disaster." 

"There are 15 nuclear reactors in Ukraine. If one of them blows, that's the end for everyone. That's the end of Europe," Zelensky said.

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