Russia reportedly told nuclear plant workers not to come on Friday due to fears of a planned incident


Russia reportedly told the workers of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant not to report to work on Friday, Ukrainian military intelligence exclusively confirmed to NBC News.

It comes amid allegations and speculation from Russia and Ukraine that an incident is planned at the factory on Friday.

On Thursday, Russia threatened to shut down the plant, warning there was a man-made disaster risk due to the alleged continued bombardment by Ukraine.

But Ukraine has a completely different story, according to Andriy Yusov, spokesman for the Ukrainian Defense Ministry’s Main Intelligence Directorate.

“There is new information, it came about half an hour ago, that for tomorrow, August 19, there is an order for the majority of the staff not to go to work,” Yusov told NBC. News.

“That’s what the Russians told their people, mainly Rosatom employees,” he said, referring to Russia’s nuclear agency.

He said it could be evidence that Russia is preparing “large-scale provocations” at the power station on Friday.

“We do not exclude the possibility of massive Russian provocations on ZNPP territory tomorrow. This is confirmed by their propaganda, information from our sources and the behavior of the Russians at the plant,” he added, referring to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.

NBC News has reached out to Russia for comment.

Earlier Thursday, Russia’s Defense Ministry accused Ukraine and what it called its ‘US handlers’ of trying to stage a ‘minor accident’ at the factory in southern Ukraine. Friday in order to blame Russia.

He said the “provocation” was timed to coincide with a visit to Ukraine by United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and could involve a radioactive leak.

Commercial blame

The Zaporizhzhia nuclear reactor complex, the largest in Europe, was captured by Russia shortly after it invaded Ukraine nearly six months ago and has been repeatedly bombarded, both Moscow and Kyiv.

Russia has repeatedly accused Ukrainian forces of recklessly firing on the plant, while Ukraine says Russia is deliberately using the complex as a base to launch attacks against its population.

NBC News has not verified the claims from either side.

A senior Ukrainian official told Reuters the easiest solution to the situation would be for Russian forces to withdraw from the factory, remove all munitions stored there and clear it.

Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov told reporters on Thursday that Moscow was taking steps to secure the complex and denied deploying heavy weapons in and around the plant.

However, the ministry said a closure of the plant could be attempted if Ukrainian forces continued to shell it.

In a briefing, Igor Kirillov, head of Russia’s radioactive, chemical and biological defense forces, said the plant’s back-up support systems had been damaged as a result of shelling.

Kirillov presented a slide, showing that in the event of an accident at the plant, radioactive material would cover Germany, Poland and Slovakia.

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