The world watched in horror as shelling by Russian forces set fire to part of the Zaporizhzhya nuclear plant in southeastern Ukraine. Immediate catastrophe was averted when the flames were put out, but the plant—which is home to six separate reactors—was captured by the Kremlin’s forces on March 4.
Russia has also taken control of the nuclear facility at Chernobyl, which although inactive, still houses deadly radioactive materials. The situation at Chernobyl took a dramatic turn for the worse on March 9 when the power supply was cut off and the electricity-dependent cooling system for spent nuclear rods was endangered. A partial outage at Zaporizhzhya followed a day later.
Ukraine is home to three additional nuclear facilities totaling nine more reactors, and some observers have theorized those are also likely to be targeted as Russia seeks to gain control over the nation’s power supply.
“The Russians will want to secure the other three Ukrainian nuclear facilities as part of this strategy,” Dr. Robert J. Bunker, research director at the security consultancy ℅ Futures LLC, told The Daily Beast. Bunker hypothesized that an “airborne assault could be utilized as an early component of a ground force offensive drive” to seize one or more of the remaining plants. If or when Russian forces are able to regain the offensive, “the three reactors at the South Ukraine facility would be the next logical target in this regard.” [Continue reading…]