“It was a tough decision to make,” Serhii Aroslanov, 46, said of his family’s deportation as they boarded a bus for Bulgaria. They planned to go to Germany, he told the Washington Post. Men between the ages of 18 and 60 are prohibited from leaving Ukraine in case they are needed for military service.
“They are leaving because of the threat to the factory,” Aroslanov added.
For the most part, Zaporizhzhia on Friday looked much like it did during months of conflict, as most war-weary residents stayed put despite the threat.
For some families, however, this was the second time they had been displaced. “We had been thinking about them leaving for a month,” said Oleksander Soroka, 37, of his wife and two children, who were boarding a bus for the Polish border. “But it was only this morning that it was finalized.”
“It’s really difficult,” added Soroka. He had been living with his family in Zaporizhzhia since March after fleeing the nearby Russian-held town of Pology.
Russia and Ukraine are warning of a possible imminent false flag attack on the factory, prompting families and workers to flee.
The nuclear power plant, the largest in Europe, is currently under Russian control but operated by Ukrainian personnel.
Ukraine’s Defense Ministry says Russia may be planning a ‘large-scale terrorist attack’ on the plant put the blame on Kyivwhile Russia in turn accused Ukraine and the United States of wanting to trigger an accident at the plant, citing a threat of overheating of the core.
Any false flag operation at the factory would be out of the ‘Russian playbook – blame others for what you have done or intend to do’, the department’s spokesman said. State, Ned Price. said Thursday, asked about warnings. He added that such statements were a “cause for concern” and said the United States was “watching very closely.”
Russian forces ordered workers at the plant to stay home on Friday amid heightened tensions and limit staff at the complex to those who operate the plant’s electrical units, according to Energoatomthe Ukrainian public energy company.
He added that he had “information” that Russian forces were also planning to turn off the power plant’s power supplies and disconnect them from the Ukrainian grid, depriving the country of a major source of energy.
On Friday, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres, visiting the Ukrainian port city of Odessa, called for the demilitarization of the area around the plant and warned against any attempt to cut off electricity to or from the installation.
“Obviously, Zaporizhzhia’s electricity is Ukrainian electricity, and it is necessary, especially during winter, for the Ukrainian people, and this principle must be fully respected,” he said. said.
Employees based in Enerhodar, the Russian town on the banks of the Dnieper that is home to the factory, Told The Post earlier this month of the daily terror of working at the nuclear facility. Amid the deteriorating security situation, vital workers such as engineers and operational staff have fled to Ukrainian-held territory in recent weeks, they said, adding to concerns about the operation of the plant.
There are few residents of Enerhodar, a pre-war town of about 50,000 people, who have no connection with the nuclear power plant.
The city, whose name means “Gift of Energy”, was built in 1970 by the Soviet Union for the families of workers at the city’s coal-fired power plant on the river. The nuclear plant, whose site covers about half a square mile, was added 10 years later.
Concern is also growing globally for the country that suffered the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in 1986. This plant in northern Ukraine is now in Ukrainian hands after Russia withdrew in April.
“You have to say it as it is. Any potential damage to Zaporizhzhia is suicide,” said Guterres on Thursday after a high-level meeting with President Volodymyr Zelensky and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The Russian Foreign Ministry rejected a proposal to demilitarize the area around the Zaporizhzhia plant, saying that it would make the installation “more vulnerable”.
The presence of Russian troops near the plant is a “guarantee” that there will be no resumption of the Chernobyl disaster, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said on Friday.
“The recklessness with which our adversaries play with nuclear security poses a threat to Europe’s largest nuclear site, involving potential risks to a huge territory, not only around the plant but also well beyond Ukraine’s borders. “, he told Russia’s Rossiya-1. TV channel.
Ryabkov also warned the parties against “negligence” in pursuing “geopolitical goals” as he reiterated Moscow’s rejection of UN calls for a demilitarized zone around the plant.
Last week, the International Atomic Energy Agency, the UN’s nuclear watchdog, warned that shelling near the plant creates “major risks to nuclear safety and security” and is “deeply disturbing”. General Manager Rafael Mariano Grossi added, however, that IAEA experts had found that “systems important to nuclear safety and security were not affected”.
The IAEA is while searching to send an expert mission to the region, but requires the consent of Kyiv and Moscow.
Elsewhere in the beleaguered country, unconfirmed reports point to strikes on a Russian air base in occupied Crimea, annexed by Moscow in 2014.
Fighting also intensified in the town of Kharkovwhere Russian rockets continued to cause damage and casualties early Friday, according to the regional governor. At least 17 people have been killed and 42 injured in two separate Russian attacks in recent days, Oleh Synyehubov said.
Hudson reported from Kyiv, Ukraine, and Suliman from London. Mary Ilyushina from Riga, Latvia contributed to this report.