Britain is not taking the threat of Russia targeting Ukrainian nuclear sites seriously enough, a leading humanitarian campaigner has warned. On the first day of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Putin’s troops took control of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, home to the world’s worst nuclear accident and still a major energy facility.
Just over a week later, Europe’s largest power station – Zaporizhzhia in southeastern Ukraine – was bombed and taken over by the Russian military. Residents said they fled the area in terror. This led the United States to claim that the world had narrowly avoided a “nuclear catastrophe” in just three weeks after Russia’s war on Ukraine.
Although no radioactive material was released in the attacks, it increased pressure on NATO powers, including the UK, to help establish a ‘no-fly zone’ above from Ukraine. Opponents fear this could lead to the NATO powers getting directly entangled in a frontal conflict with Russia.
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Last week, US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield warned that Russia’s targeting of nuclear facilities reflected a “dangerous new escalation” in the conflict and risked disaster. Oleksandr Polishchuk, a banker who now coordinates aid work for the Ukrainian Social Club, told MyLondon: “This war is being fought on three fronts: on the ground, in the media and at the diplomatic level. We need governments around the world to potentially save millions of lives.
“Our basic requirement is air defence, including a no-fly zone. NATO and the UK are unwilling to send pilots. I understand that… But nothing prevents the UK and NATO from giving us planes. We have nuclear facilities that are under attack. The fallout would be global.
“What will the governments do here then? Give us a chance to protect our skies… We’re doing it without you for now. But the fighters are being turned away because Ukraine doesn’t have the necessary equipment.”
Britain plans to give Ukraine-made anti-aircraft missiles to help defend its skies against Russian attack, Defense Minister Ben Wallace has said, and the United States has just provide an additional $800 million in security aid – including weapons that can shoot down Russian planes. .
Ukraine has 15 operating nuclear reactors, which typically produce about half of the country’s electricity, according to an article in the journal Nature. However, several experts told the publication that the risks of radiation spreading were low, even if the sites were hit by missiles.
Speaking at the Ukrainian Social Club, Svitlana, a west London mum and former communications worker, told MyLondon: “We are now beyond the point of compromise. Russia has revealed itself. How can you negotiate on this?
“I listened [Ukranian] Speech by President Zelensky on Wednesday. He said his life ended when 100 children were killed… The reality is much worse than the pictures you see. However, Svetlana added a note of optimism: she is convinced that Ukraine will win the war in the end.
You can donate to the Aid Ukraine effort online or in person, via supportukraine.uk
Josiah joined MyLondon as the first City Hall Editor in October 2021, reporting on the Mayor, London Assembly, Met Police, Transport for London and wider London politics.
He moved from Brussels to south London in 2015, working in communications for the Electoral Reform Society and covering Westminster politics as a freelance journalist. Originally from Cornwall, he is now also a proud Londoner. Josiah has appeared on BBC Radio 4, Times Radio, LBC and other outlets to discuss the news and general political chaos.
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