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The U.S. calls Russian attack on Ukraine nuclear power plant a "war crime"

CBCNews | The world's largest nuclear power station was attacked and taken over by Russian forces invading Ukraine on Friday, provoking outrage in the West at the prospect of another Chernobyl-style disaster contaminating all of Europe.

The US Embassy in Kyiv termed the attack a "war crime," stating that the shelling of the plant by (Russian President Vladimir) Putin "takes his reign of terror one step further."

Blasts lit up the night sky as shells rained down on the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station, about 400 miles southeast of Kyiv.

Firefighters from Ukraine said they were initially denied entry to the location before the attack was halted and they were able to put out a fire at a training facility there.

The six reactors at Zaporizhzhia, which have the capacity to power four million homes, appear to be unharmed, and international monitors have recorded no increase in radiation levels.

During shelling in Enerhodar, a flare lands at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station, according to surveillance camera footage.

On March 4, 2022, surveillance camera footage shows a flare landing at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station near Enerhodar, Ukraine, amid bombardment.

In Western capitals, however, the attack was blasted as totally irresponsible.

"We survived a night that could have ended the story, Ukraine's history, and Europe's history," Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelensky stated.

He claimed that an explosion at Zaporizhzhia would have been equivalent to "six Chernobyls," alluding to the Ukrainian plant that was the location of the world's worst nuclear disaster in 1986.

"Russian tank commanders understood exactly what they were shooting at," Zelensky claimed, adding, "The terrorist state has now turned to nuclear terror."

In Enerhodar, Ukraine, the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant's administrative building has been damaged.

In Enerhodar, Ukraine, a damaged administrative building of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant is visible in a handout photo provided March 4, 2022, by the press service of the National Nuclear Energy Generating Company, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Following a late-night phone call with Zelensky, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson called an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council.

He accused Putin of "reckless acts" that "may now directly threaten the safety of all of Europe" and demanded a truce again.

Putin, on the other hand, has shown no remorse for an offensive that has forced Russia into economic, sports, and cultural exile in Siberia.

He added on Thursday that the invasion was "strictly on time, according to plan" in terms of pushing away the "neo-Nazis" in Kyiv commanded by Zelensky, who is Jewish.

According to the Reuters news service, the Kremlin denied shelling the plant, instead of blaming the incident on Ukrainian "saboteurs" and calling it a "monstrous provocation."

Western politicians, on the other hand, joined Johnson in harshly criticizing the shelling.

The bombardment was described as "madness" by Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store, and as "heinous" by Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, who claimed it was "an attack on everyone's security."

"This only illustrates the irresponsibility of this war and the need of terminating it," NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said. "It also demonstrates the importance of Russia removing all of its soldiers and engaging in good faith in diplomatic efforts."

The director of the United Nations nuclear watchdog offered to travel to Chernobyl on Friday to discuss with Ukraine and Russia about the security of Ukraine's nuclear sites.

"I have signaled my readiness... to visit Chernobyl as soon as possible to both the Russian Federation and Ukraine," Rafael Grossi, director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, told reporters.

He noted that "all parties are evaluating" the issue.

Last week, Russia seized the Chernobyl disaster site, which killed hundreds of people and spread radioactive contamination over Europe.

Grossi stated that the trip's goal would be to negotiate a "framework" with both sides to ensure the security and operation of Ukraine's nuclear sites.

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