A Russian attack at Europe’s biggest nuclear power plant in Ukraine did not result in any radiation being released and firefighters extinguished a blaze at the facility, U.N. and Ukrainian officials said, as Russian forces pressed their campaign Friday to cripple the country despite global condemnation.
The International Atomic Energy Agency’s director-general, Rafael Mariano Grossi, said Friday the building hit by a Russian “projectile” at the Zaporizhzhia plant was “not part of the reactor” but instead a training center.
Nuclear officials from Sweden to China said no radiation spikes had been reported, as did Grossi. Ukrainian officials have said Russian troops took control of the overall site, but the plant’s staff were continuing to ensure its operations. Grossi said the Ukrainians were in control of the reactor.
Still, the attack caused worldwide concern and evoked memories of the world’s worst nuclear disaster at Ukraine’s Chernobyl.
The plant fire came as the Russian military advanced on a strategic city on the Dnieper River near where the facility is located, and gained ground in their bid to cut the country off from the sea. That would deal a severe blow to Ukraine’s economy and could worsen an already dire humanitarian situation.
With the invasion in its second week, another round of talks between Russia and Ukraine yielded a tentative agreement to set up safe corridors to evacuate citizens and deliver humanitarian aid. The war has sent more than 1 million fleeing over the border and countless others sheltering underground. Handful cities are without heat and at least one is struggling to get food and water.
There were initially conflicting reports about which part of the Zaporizhzhia plant was affected by the attack — confusion that underscored the dangers of active fighting near a nuclear power plant. It was the second time since the invasion began just over a week ago that concerns about a potential nuclear accident materialized, following a battle at Chernobyl.