French President Emmanuel Macron has said that he is “extremely concerned” about risks posed to Ukrainian nuclear power stations after Russian troops attacked the Zaporizhzhia plant in the south east of the country early on Friday morning (March 4).
The attack on the plant caused global alarm, and calls from major powers such as the US, UK, Germany and France to immediately cease the attack.
Russian shells caused a fire in a training building on the Zaporizhzhia plant site, which was later extinguished. There was no radiation leak and the site is now safe. It is the biggest nuclear power plant in Europe.
“The President of the Republic strongly condemns any attack on the integrity of Ukrainian civilian nuclear facilities caused by Russian forces in the course of their military aggression against Ukraine,” a statement from the French government, published on Friday, reads.
The French government said yesterday evening that President Emmanuel Macron would announce concrete measures to ensure the safety of Ukraine's five nuclear power stations “in the coming hours''. No further details on this have yet been announced.
A special UN Security Council session was convened yesterday amid concerns about the security of Ukraine’s nuclear power stations.
Linda Thomas-Greenfield, US Ambassador to the United Nations, said that “the world narrowly averted a nuclear catastrophe,” during the special meeting.
“Russia’s attack last night put Europe’s largest nuclear power plant at grave risk. It was incredibly reckless and dangerous. And it threatened the safety of civilians across Russia, Ukraine and Europe," she said.
The permanent representative of France to the United Nations, Nicolas de Riviere, also condemned the attack at the meeting.
“The results of the aggression of Russia against Ukraine are possibly devastating for human health and the environment," he said.
Meanwhile, the US embassy in Kyiv stated that it is a war crime to attack a nuclear power station.
It is a war crime to attack a nuclear power plant. Putin's shelling of Europe's largest nuclear plant takes his reign of terror one step further. #TheHague #Zaporizhzhia #StandwithUkraine— U.S. Embassy Kyiv (@USEmbassyKyiv) March 4, 2022
A video, verified by the New York Times, shows how staff inside the Zaporizhzhia plant attempted to stop Russian soldiers firing at the station by warning them with a loudspeaker.
See the video in the tweet below (with English subtitles).
Video of nuclear scientists appealing to Russian troops through loudspeakers to stop shooting RPGs at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant.— Visegrád 24 (@visegrad24) March 5, 2022
The scientists say the Russian forces are endangering the entire world with their actions. pic.twitter.com/E34ANaPXug
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French military in contact with Russian military
The Chief of Staff of the French Armed Forces, Thierry Burkhard, spoke yesterday evening on the phone with his Russian counterpart, General Valery Guerassimov, about the the war in Ukraine.
Entretien téléphonique ce jour avec mon homologue russe, le général Valéri Guerassimov. Echanges sur la situation au Sahel et en Europe de l'Est, en particulier sur la guerre en Ukraine. pic.twitter.com/oyiXJrAyND— Chef d'état-major des armées (@CEMA_FR) March 4, 2022
This dialogue is extremely important, French general Jérôme Pellistrandi told BFMTV.
It is particularly vital from the point of view of France’s chief of staff, in order to say, 'we know exactly what you are doing',” he said.
“We must maintain this line of dialogue in order to prepare for a possible de-escalation in tension.”
For independent news in English about the Ukraine situation, see the Kyiv Independent.
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