Ukraine war: Europe's largest nuclear power plant off grid
By Stefan J. Bos
Ukraine's energy minister says a fire forced the staff to close the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant's last connection to a reserve line providing its only source of outside power.
The minister, Herman Galushchenko, added that this again places critical cooling systems at risk of relying solely on emergency backup power.
Firefighting crews have been unable to reach the blaze site because of continued fighting around the plant.
Shelling, explosions, and fires around the facility in southern Ukraine have raised fears about a possible nuclear disaster.
Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelensky, has accused Russia of using the plant as a nuclear weapon that could threaten his nation and much of Europe.
Zelensky said Russian soldiers occupied "our nuclear station with six [reactors] blocks, the biggest in Europe." He said it could mean "six Chernobyls," referring to the world's worst nuclear incident in Chernobyl in 1986. "It means the biggest danger in Europe," he warned.
Russia has denied wrongdoing. Moscow and Kyiv have accused each other of responsibility for the ongoing shelling in the area.
Two members of a United Nations team sent last week to inspect the facility have remained at the plant to ensure its safety and perhaps reduce fighting in the area.
It comes amid U.S. allegations that Russia is buying millions of rockets and artillery shells from North Korea to support its invasion of Ukraine.
Washington claims it shows the Russian military continues to suffer from severe supply shortages in Ukraine due partly to export controls and sanctions.
U.S. intelligence officials believe Russia could try to acquire additional North Korean military equipment in the future.
The finding comes after the Biden administration confirmed the Russian military took delivery of Iranian-manufactured drones in August for use on the battlefield in Ukraine.