Zaporizhzhia: China ‘very concerned’ after Russia seizes Ukrainian nuclear power plant

‘We will monitor the situation and call on all sides to exercise restraint’

Shweta Sharma
Friday 04 March 2022 09:43 GMT
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Surveillance camera footage shows a flare landing at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant during shelling in Enerhodar, Zaporizhia blast
Surveillance camera footage shows a flare landing at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant during shelling in Enerhodar, Zaporizhia blast (Zaporizhzhya NPP via REUTERS)
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China urged “all sides to exercise restraint” to ensure the safety of the Zaporizhzhia power plant in Ukraine, after Russian military forces launched an overnight attack to seize Europe’s biggest nuclear facility.

A Chinese foreign ministry spokesman said on Friday that Beijing is “very concerned” about the ongoing situation.

“We will monitor the situation and call on all sides to exercise restraint, avoid escalation and ensure the safety of relevant nuclear facilities,” foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told a daily briefing.

China, a close ally of Russia, which has so far stopped short of condemning Moscow for the unprovoked attack on Ukraine, released a statement after a fire broke out at the nuclear power plant after shelling by Russian forces.

The fire at an adjacent five-story training facility sparked worldwide fears of a potential nuclear disaster in entire Europe.

Ukraine’s Emergency Services said they managed to extinguish the fire with broke out at a building outside the plant’s premises. The Ukrainian authorities claimed the plant has been seized by Russian troops.

The Ukrainian president on Friday sounded an ominous warning by referring to it as a repeat of 1986 Chernobyl disaster and accused Moscow of resorting to “nuclear terror”.

“If there is an explosion, it is the end of everything. The end of Europe,” he said.

The attack on the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant was condemned by world leaders who called out Russian president Vladimir Putin as “horrific” and “reckless” attack endangering the safety of the whole of Europe.

Surveillance footage that captured the incident showed a blast lighting up the night sky before sending plumes of smoke out the plant.

In a statement on Facebook, Ukraine’s emergency services confirmed that “at 06:20 [04:20 GMT] the fire in the training building of Zaporizhzhia NPP in Energodar was extinguished. There are no victims.”

The UN’s nuclear watchdog, International Atomic Energy Agency said that it was putting its “incident and emergency centre in full 24/7 response mode due to serious situation” at the nuclear power plant.

China’s Xi Jinping-led government has tried to distance itself from Russia’s aggression in Ukraine while avoiding criticising Moscow. It also denounced trade and financial sanctions on Russia and did not announce any humanitarian aid to war-torn Ukraine.

A China-led development bank, Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), on Thursday suspended business ties with Russia and Belarus, in a sign of Beijing’s limits of its support to the country.

“Under these circumstances, and in the best interests of the Bank, Management has decided that all activities relating to Russia and Belarus are on hold and under review,” the Beijing-based bank said in a statement on Thursday.

The multilateral development bank did not give the reason for the suspension in business with two countries, but said “its thoughts and sympathy to everyone affected”.

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