‘This cannot go on’: IAEA chief furious as Russian strikes threaten Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant

‘This cannot go on’: IAEA chief furious as Russian strikes threaten Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant

At least nine people were killed in the latest wave of Russian attacks across Ukraine during the early hours of Thursday morning. 

It was the heaviest aerial bombardment in weeks, with at least 81 Russian missiles and eight suicide drones striking residential areas and key infrastructure across the country, according to Ukrainian officials.

Nearly half of all households in Kyiv were without heat, as were many in Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, where the water was also cut on a day when outdoor temperatures were expected to fall to around freezing, local officials said.

Around 150,000 households were left without power in Ukraine’s northwestern Zhytomyr region. In the southern port of Odesa, there were emergency blackouts due to damaged power lines.

People wait behind police cordon after a rocket attack in Kyiv, Ukraine, Thursday, March 9, 2023.Thibault Camus/`AP Photo

“[We heard a] crazy whistling noise, and then boom. Whistle, and boom. We live on the fifth floor, it was very scary. We packed our belongings and ran down to the first floor,” said Tetyana, 62, who lives in the southern city of Kherson where at least three people were killed in the attacks. “There haven’t been strikes like this [for a long time],” she added.

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General, Rafael Grossi, addresses a news conference during an IAEA Board of Governors meeting in Vienna, Austria, 6 Feb 2023Heinz-Peter Bader/AP Photo

Alerts were also raised at the Zhaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, which was cut off from the power grid, creating the threat of nuclear catastrophe as nuclear plants need constant power to run cooling systems to avoid a meltdown. 

Although the current was eventually restored, the Director of the UN’s nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Rafael Grossi, says such “complacency” cannot continue.

“How can we sit here in this room this morning and allow this to happen? This cannot go on. I am astonished by the complacency, yes, the complacency. What are we doing to prevent this from happening?”

In his daily press conference, the Kremlin’s defence spokesman, General Konashenkov, confirmed that among other long-range weaponry, Moscow had fired Kinzhal hypersonic missiles, which are among the most sophisticated weapons in the Russian arsenal, Ukrainian air force spokesman Yurii Ihnat said. 

He added that the attack was retaliation for a recent Ukrainian incursion into the Russian border region of Bryansk.


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