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Today, the old continent stands at the crater of the “Zaporgia Nuclear Volcano”, as the possibility of its eruption warns of a catastrophe that will burn people, trees, birds and stones, while the world lives with a pierced memory that does not help it to remember the Chernobyl accident, the largest radioactive nuclear disaster that humanity witnessed in 1986.
In light of the dangerous destructive escalation in the vicinity of the Zaporizhia nuclear power complex in southern Ukraine, fears are renewed of a catastrophic nuclear accident in the old continent, after areas close to the complex were subjected to missile and artillery bombardment, today, Tuesday.
The Zaporizhia complex turned into a terrifying arena of conflict, as the “nuclear game” in the vicinity of the complex became like sitting on a powder keg for the residents of the nearby town of Enerhodar.
The nuclear complex came under the control of Russian forces shortly after the start of the war on February 24, but it is still mainly run by Ukrainian technicians.
Russia and Ukraine continue to exchange accusations over the repeated bombing of the Zaporizhia nuclear plant, with Kyiv accusing Moscow of deploying troops and stockpiling military equipment. Russia denies this and accuses Ukraine of targeting Zaporizhia with drones.
And early on Monday morning, towns near the Zaporizhia nuclear power complex were subjected to missile and artillery bombardment, while the capital, Kyiv, banned any gatherings this week to commemorate independence from the Soviet Union for fear of Russian attacks.
A barrage of missiles rained down on Nikopol during the night. The city is located on the opposite bank of the Dnipro River from the Russian-occupied city of Enerhodar and where the Zaporizhia nuclear complex is located. Local Governor Valentin Reznichenko wrote on Telegram today, Monday, that the rockets that fell on Nikopol and nearby Kryvyi Rih and Sinelnikovsky injured at least four.
Today, Tuesday, the Ukrainian General Staff accused Russia of carrying out artillery and air strikes in the Zaporizhia region, noting that Voznesensk, which is located to the southwest and not far from the country’s second largest nuclear plant, was subjected to a Russian missile strike.
The attacks come a day before Ukraine celebrates independence from the Soviet Union on Wednesday, with Kyiv banning public celebrations for fear of more attacks in the war that the United Nations said on Monday has killed more than 5,500 civilians.
Ukraine said Russia had fired artillery and launched air strikes on several towns in the Zaporizhia region near the frontlines in the south of the country, after Russian forces seized the nuclear power plant shortly after the war that began on Feb. 24.
Artillery and missile fire near the Zaporizhia nuclear reactor complex, on the southern bank of the Dnipro River, led to calls for disarmament in the region.
Ukrainians living nearby expressed fears that the shells could hit one of the plant’s six reactors, with dire consequences.
In this regard, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky warned that Moscow might try to do “something very ugly” in the run-up to the 31st anniversary of independence on Wednesday, which also marks half a year since the Russia-Ukraine war.
The US embassy in Kyiv warned in a statement of Russian plans to strike civilian and government infrastructure in the coming days.
silent independence party
In the meantime, the Kyiv authorities preferred a silent party, without the anniversary of independence, as they decided to ban public events related to the independence anniversary from Monday until next Thursday, for fear of renewed missile attacks.
Local authorities in Kyiv banned major public events and other anniversary-related gatherings in the capital from Monday through Thursday due to the possibility of missile attacks, according to a document published by the Kyiv Military Administration and signed by its head, Mykola Zhirnov.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is deeply concerned about the risk of more severe attacks ahead of the 31st anniversary of Ukraine’s independence from Soviet rule, which falls on Wednesday, August 24.
Zelensky fears that Moscow will try to “do something ugly and something especially evil”, in the run-up to Independence Day Wednesday, which also marks the six-month anniversary of the Russia-Ukrainian war.
Zelensky discussed “all threats” with his French counterpart and a word was sent to other leaders including Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
“All of Ukraine’s partners have been informed of what Russia can prepare for this week,” he said in his video night address.
Fears of attacks mounted after Russia’s Federal Security Service on Monday accused Ukrainian agents of killing Daria Dugina, the daughter of an ultra-nationalist thinker, in a car bomb attack near Moscow that President Vladimir Putin called “evil”. Ukraine denies involvement in the incident.
Deputy Ambassador to the United Nations Dmitry Polyansky was quoted by the state-owned RIA news agency as saying that Moscow had requested a meeting of the UN Security Council on Tuesday to discuss the situation related to the Zaporizhia station.
With the war entering its seventh month, experts believe that the conflict will be prolonged, six months after the start of the war in Ukraine, with continued battles and bombing that leave casualties on a daily basis.
In light of the highly contradictory positions, analysts rule out any reason to stop the conflict, as no settlements or peace negotiations appear on the horizon.
According to Marie Dumoulin, director of the Wider Europe Program at the European Council on International Relations: “We are on our way to a conflict that could be very long, given that some form of balance of power is beginning to emerge between the two parties.”
“We can think that (the conflict) may last until 2023 at least,” Dumoulin said, noting that presidential elections are scheduled in the two countries in 2024. She wonders, “Will this play a role, and in what direction?”
Dumoulin believes that a “prolongation of the war” is the most likely scenario: “We can reasonably rely on this scenario,” noting that “a gradual relaxation will begin to appear on the western side, and therefore will not facilitate Ukraine’s support.”
This comes as European countries have to ease the discontent of their people due to the high prices of energy and food.
For his part, Russian political analyst Konstantin Kalachev told AFP that the conflict could continue for “more years”.
Russia, according to Kalachev, lacks human resources, as it is mired in a swamp. But Ukraine also lacks the human resources to launch a counterattack, and it does not have heavy offensive weapons.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is optimistic about victory, as he reiterated last Sunday evening that “the absolute majority of our people have no doubt that we will achieve victory for Ukraine.” “We are united, we have more confidence in ourselves now than we had several decades ago,” he said.
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