Russian soldiers 'torturing staff' inside Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant

·Breaking News Editor, Yahoo News UK
·4-min read
ZAPORIZHZHIA, UKRAINE - MARCH 4: A screen grab captured from a video shows a view of Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant during a fire following clashes around the site in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine on March 4, 2022. (Photo by Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant during a fire on Friday (Getty)

Russian soldiers are torturing Ukrainian staff at a nuclear power plant which was attacked earlier this week, a senior Ukrainian politician has claimed.

Ukrainian energy minister Herman Galushchenko said workers at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant had been held hostage for four days. He claimed they were being forced to record an address to be used as propaganda.

Russian forces triggered worldwide alarm last Friday after seizing the plant following a fierce gun battle.

The UN's nuclear monitoring agency has said that none of the six reactors on the site have been directly damaged and radiation levels remain normal.

Three Ukrainian soldiers were killed trying to defend the site, authorities said.

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky accused Moscow of resorting to “nuclear terror” and wanting to “repeat” the Chernobyl disaster over the incident, in which a fire broke out in a training building and had to be put out.

Read more: Ukrainians in Mariupol 'dying of dehydration' as Russia cuts off city's supplies

Watch: Ukrainian nuclear power plant on fire after Russian attack

The plant was seized by the Russian military after the fire, and according to Galushchenko, there are now 500 soldiers and 50 units of "heavy equipment" inside.

A statement from the Russian news agency, TASS, claimed the plant was now being run "jointly" by Russian military personnel, Ukrainian specialists and the national guard.

He said: "Russian occupation forces torture the operating staff of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant. According to our information, occupiers compelled the Plant's management to record an address that they plan to use for propaganda purposes.

"Russia's propaganda machine aims to create one more fake for its citizens and international community in an attempt to justify its crimes.

"Operating staff of the Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant have been held hostage for 4 days. There are about 500 Russian soldiers and 50 units of heavy equipment inside the station.

"The employees of the station are physically and psychologically exhausted."

Galushchenko called on the international community to "take all measures" to remove Russian troops from the site.

KYIV, UKRAINE - MARCH 08: Firefighters try to extinguish a fire after a chemical warehouse was hit by Russian shelling on the eastern frontline near Kalynivka village on March 08, 2022, in Kyiv, Ukraine. Russia continues assault on Ukraine's major cities, including the capital Kyiv, after launching a large-scale invasion of the country on February 24. (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)
Firefighters try to extinguish a fire after a chemical warehouse was hit by Russian shelling near Kalynivka village in Kyiv. (Getty)
TOPSHOT - This picture shows an apartment building damaged after shelling the day before in Ukraine's second-biggest city of Kharkiv on March 8, 2022. - The number of people fleeing the war flooding across Ukraine's borders to escape towns devastated by shelling and air strikes passed two million, in Europe's fastest-growing refugee crisis since World War II, according to the United Nations. (Photo by Sergey BOBOK / AFP) (Photo by SERGEY BOBOK/AFP via Getty Images)
Ukraine has been under attack for 14 days (Getty)

"A breakdown at a nuclear power plant due to the use of weapons by Russian troops will lead to a disaster for the whole of Europe. The responsibility for this will be entirely on Russia," he said.

"If a breakdown happens, Europeans will be forced to switch the comfort of their homes to radiation shelters.

"We must stop Russia's nuclear terrorism together. We must do it now – until it's too late."

Following the attack, the State Inspectorate for Nuclear Regulation of Ukraine reported no changes in radiation levels but warned that could change.

Read more: Ukraine army band play 'Don't Worry be Happy" at barricades

US Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm tweeted that there were no signs of elevated radiation levels. She added: "The plant's reactors are protected by robust containment structures and reactors are being safely shut down."

Russian forces have also seized Chernobyl, as they attempt to take control of the country.

On Wednesday Ukraine’s state power operator warned the plant had been disconnected from the grid, sparking fears over the cooling of spent fuel.

The BBC reported that over 100 workers on the site have not been allowed to leave for more than 12 days after it was seized.

Those working on the site have been allowed to go about their duties, the broadcaster was told, but while the situation remains calm there is reportedly limited access to food and medicine.

The UN nuclear watchdog said on Tuesday systems monitoring nuclear material at the site have stopped transmitting data.

"The Director General ... indicated that remote data transmission from safeguards monitoring systems installed at the Chernobyl NPP had been lost," the International Atomic Energy Agency said in a statement.

Safeguards refers to the field of IAEA work aimed at keeping track of nuclear material.

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