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EDITORIAL | Call Out Russia: Zaporizhzhia Explosives are a War Crime

At its July 11-12 summit, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization should warn Russia on the explosives at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant and other heinous acts.



Zaporozhzhia nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine on with a soldier standing guard. June 15, 2023. (©Reuters)

Ukraine, currently facing Russian aggression, has raised alarm over the suspected presence of explosives at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant. It is located in the country's southern region.

The destruction of crucial facilities like nuclear reactors could lead to the release of hazardous radioactive materials, causing severe consequences.

A strong warning must be issued to Russia by the international community, including Japan, the United States, and European nations. They must emphasize that detonating explosives in nuclear power plants will result in severe repercussions. By this, we mean repercussions similar to the use of nuclear weapons

Additionally, Russia must immediately release its grip on the occupied power plants and fully withdraw from Ukraine.

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy delivers a speech via videolink at the opening session on the first day of the Ukraine Recovery Conference in London, Britain June 21, 2023. (©Henry Nicholls/Pool via REUTERS)

What Reports Find

On July 4, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense revealed that the Russian military had planted suspected explosive devices on the roofs of reactor units 3 and 4 at the nuclear power plant. While the ministry believes the detonation would not damage the reactors, this reckless and dangerous act is entirely unacceptable.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has dispatched personnel to the nuclear power plant. On July 5 it stated that while the presence of explosives had not been confirmed, further on-site investigations would be necessary. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy condemned Russia in a video address. Meanwhile, countries like the US and Japan have been closely monitoring the situation.

Rosatom, the Russian state-owned nuclear company, controls the power plant. According to information from the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense, Rosatom advised its staff to evacuate by July 5. If the cooling systems of the reactors fail due to an explosion or other factors, a meltdown could occur within as little as 10 hours.

The Kakhovka hydroelectric power plant dam caves in at Kherson, southern Ukraine. Photo taken on June 6. (© Reuters)

Successive Risks from Russian Occupation

Since the occupation by Russian forces in March 2022, the nuclear power plant has been constantly at risk. Frequent power supply disruptions resulting from damaged transmission lines have left it vulnerable. 

More recently, the collapse of the Kakhovka Dam on June 6 has heightened concerns about potential future shortages of cooling water. This is the dam that provided cooling water to the plant.

Russia maintains that the dam's destruction was caused by Ukrainian actions. It also denies any involvement in placing explosives at the nuclear power plant.

However, Russia has continuously fabricated lies since the beginning of its aggressive war. Meanwhile, it has engaged in indiscriminate attacks and infrastructure destruction, so that its claims lack credibility. 

new Start
Ukraine's Zaporizhia nuclear power plant, attacked by Russian troops on March 4, 2022 (Reuters from a YouTube capture from a camera at the same nuclear power plant)

NATO Must Warn Russia Against War Crimes

It is only natural to suspect that Russia's intention is to target dams and also nuclear power plants. After all, it wants to impede Ukraine's counteroffensive operations.

The assaults on dams and nuclear power plants flagrantly violate international humanitarian law. Furthermore, under the law of war, these constitute war crimes

It is crucial for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to issue a resolute warning against Russia's heinous acts during its upcoming summit on July 11 and 12.


(Read the editorial in Japanese.)

Author: Editorial Board, The Sankei Shimbun


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