Putin’s forces set up ‘fighting positions’ on nuclear plant’s roof3 min read
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New satellite pictures obtained by the UK Ministry of Defence show that Russian forces have assumed “sandbag fighting positions” on Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant. The MoD claimed the move is proof Putin’s troops are increasingly worried about a major Ukrainian offensive.
In its latest update, the Ministry said: “Imagery shows that by March 2023, Russian forces had established sandbag fighting positions on the roofs of several of the six reactor buildings at Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP).
“Russia has controlled ZNPP since March 2022. However, this is the first indication of the actual reactor buildings being integrated in tactical defence planning.
“Russia has likely constructed these positions because it is increasingly concerned about the prospects of a major Ukrainian offensive.
“The move highly likely increases the chances of damage to ZNPP safety systems if fighting takes place around ZNPP.
“However, direct catastrophic damage to the reactors is unlikely under most plausible scenarios involving infantry weapons because the structures are very heavily reinforced.”
Ukrainian officials have repeatedly accused Russia of using the plant as a base for firing on nearby Ukrainian-held territory. On Tuesday, Ukrainian officials reported that heavy Russian artillery fire hit cities on the western bank of the Dnieper River just across from the plant.
The plant has six reactors, all of which have been shut down over the past year.
The Ukrainian military is now preparing for a new massive counteroffensive, relying on the latest supplies of Western battle tanks and other weapons and fresh troops that were trained in the West.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Tuesday met with the top military brass to discuss the battlefield situation as well as prospects for new weapons supplies and the preparation of troops.
Zelensky said on Facebook: “We have to accelerate the pace of weapons supply because every day of delay is the lives of our soldiers.”
Ukraine’s military intelligence chief, Maj. Gen. Kyrylo Budanov, in an interview with RBC-Ukraine released Monday, described the planned counteroffensive as a “landmark battle in Ukraine’s modern history” that would see the country “reclaim significant areas.”
The Kremlin, meanwhile, has regularly reminded the West about Russia’s nuclear arsenal in a bid to discourage the US and its allies from ramping up weapons supplies to Ukraine.
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The US and its NATO allies have denounced Moscow’s nuclear rhetoric as dangerous and irresponsible, but noted that they haven’t seen any change in Russia’s nuclear posture.
On Tuesday, Dmitry Medvedev, deputy head of the Security Council chaired by Russian President Vladimir Putin, warned that “the world is likely on the verge of another world war” and declared that Moscow wouldn’t hesitate to use nuclear weapons if it faced an existential threat.
Medvedev described atomic weapons as pviotal for Russia’s survival, saying that “for our country, the nuclear weapons are the joint holding the state together.”
He vowed that the Kremlin will achieve its goals in Ukraine and pointed at Russia’s nuclear doctrine envisaging that it could atomic weapons in response to a nuclear attack or an attack with conventional weapons that threatens “the very existence” of the Russian state.
He said: “Our potential adversaries shouldn’t underestimate that.”
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