ISW: The Russian generalʼs statement about blackmail by blowing up the Zaporizhzhia NPP is probably fake

Sofiia Telishevska

The American Institute for the Study of War suggests that the statement of the Russian general, who allegedly threatened to blow up the captured nuclear power plant in Energodar, is probably fake.

ISW notes that several news agencies have shared a screenshot from “VKontakte” (a Russian social network banned in Ukraine) which allegedly contains a statement by the commander of the Russian occupation garrison at the Zaporizhzhia NPP, Major General Valery Vasiliev. He "stated" that at the site of the nuclear power plant "there will be either Russian land or a scorched desert."

The institute has learned that the screenshot with the generalʼs words was taken from the "news" of the Russian occupation publication "Zaporozhye News Feed", but there they stated that they did not do anything like this. They said, the statement was spread by a fake group.

"The Russian Ministry of Defense condemned the material and the screenshot as a fake and stated that Vasiliev was in Uzbekistan at the time when he allegedly made a statement to the Russian troops in the Zaporizhzhia oblast," ISW writes.

American analysts believe that the distribution of this probably fake statement about the threat of blowing up the Zaporizhzhia NPP is intended to divert attention from the real risks of a nuclear disaster, such as mining the territory of the NPP and creating warehouses with ammunition there. ISW suggests that in this way Russia wants to play on the Westʼs fears about the disaster and reduce its desire to provide weapons to Ukraine.

  • On August 3, the Director General of the IAEA, Raphael Grossi, stated that all nuclear safety measures were violated at the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia NPP — it was completely out of the organizationʼs control.
  • On August 5, Russian troops shelled the industrial site of the Zaporizhzhia NPP — they hit the high-voltage communication line of an autotransformer. After that, the station was hit by rocket systems of salvo fire. Due to this, the power unit was disconnected at the station. The nitrogen-oxygen station and the combined auxiliary building were seriously damaged. There was a risk of hydrogen leakage and sputtering of radioactive substances.
  • Citing sources, The Insider writes that the Russians are mining the station — the occupiers store mines and ammunition in the immediate vicinity of the power units and under the overpasses.
  • On August 6, the Russians again bombarded the nuclear power plant — the rockets hit near the dry storage of spent nuclear fuel. Radiation monitoring sensors failed, and one station employee was injured.