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‘Accidents happen,’ says Vladimir Putin ally Medvedev in sinister threat to EU’s nuclear plants

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Destruction: A man stands inside a crater left by a Russian missile strike in Kushuhum. Photo: Reuters

Destruction: A man stands inside a crater left by a Russian missile strike in Kushuhum. Photo: Reuters

Destruction: A man stands inside a crater left by a Russian missile strike in Kushuhum. Photo: Reuters

One of Vladimir Putin’s closest allies has warned European nations that their nuclear power stations are vulnerable to “accidents”, in a veiled threat of Russian sabotage missions.

Dmitry Medvedev, a former president of Russia and deputy chairman of its security council, was responding to reports that Moscow has shelled the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant in Ukraine.

Russian troops have been using Europe’s largest nuclear power plant as a base and shelling Ukrainian positions from within its bounds. Kyiv has been accused of returning fire on the plant.

“Kyiv scumbags and their western patrons seem to be ready for the new Chernobyl,” Mr Medvedev said.

“Missiles and shells are getting closer and closer to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant and radioactive isotope storage facilities,” he wrote on the Telegram social media messaging app.

“They say it’s Russia. This is obvious, 100pc b******t, even for the Russophobic public... even the UN doesn’t believe it. What can one say... one should not forget that there are nuclear power plants in the European Union too. And accidents are also possible there.”

Earlier this year, Kyiv confirmed it used a Western-provided kamikaze drone to hit Russian targets nestled behind one of the Zaphorizhzhia plant’s cooling towers.

Clashes at the plant have prompted international warnings of radioactive disaster and calls for the introduction of a demilitarised zone to avert such a catastrophe.

During the war in Ukraine, Mr Medvedev has moved from the liberal politician who dined with Barack Obama to one of Mr Putin’s most reliable anti-West hawks.

This week he was dispatched by the Russian president to check on military operations in the eastern Donbas region of Ukraine, meeting the leaders of pro-Kremlin breakaways in Luhansk and Donetsk.

Western nuclear plants have been an almost constant target for Russian spies over the years. Between 2012 and 2014, the US Department of Justice revealed that three Russians had spent five years targeting energy infrastructure in 135 countries in the hope of gaining remote access to power stations.

Mr Medvedev once served as Russian president and placeholder for Putin between his terms in office.

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Kremlin watchers say the law professor (56) has been trying to prove his loyalty to Putin with radical, incendiary statements. He said he was “hacked” after a statement posted on Telegram said “united, mighty and invincible Russia” would reclaim lands lost to other countries after conquering Ukraine.

Mr Medvedev had posted to his 2.2 million followers that Georgia “didn’t exist as a state” before joining Russia in the 1800s, and Kazakhstan was an “artificial” state.

The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, which was seized by Russian troops in March, has become the latest flashpoint in simmering tensions between the West and Moscow.

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky on Thursday accused Russia of resorting to “unconcealed nuclear blackmail”. He said: “Only the complete withdrawal of Russians from the territory of the Zaporizhzhia NPP and the restoration of Ukraine’s full control over the situation around the plant will guarantee the restoration of nuclear safety for all of Europe.”

Ukraine accused Russian forces of firing rockets from around the plant, killing at least 13 people, in the knowledge that it would be risky for Ukrainian troops to return fire.

The facility, which can provide power to four million houses in southern Ukraine, has been kept operating by staff, forced to work at gunpoint by its Russian occupiers.

Vladimir Rogov, a pro-Russian official in Zaporizhzhia’s puppet administration, yesterday warned that the plant could be “mothballed”, without offering any further explanation. (© Telegraph Media Group Ltd 2022)


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