Air defenses brought down drones headed for the Zaporozhye NPP, authorities said A makeshift Ukrainian drone brought down near the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant, June 9, 2023. © Zaporozhye Region authorities/handout
Russian air defenses have intercepted three drones armed with explosive warheads that were headed towards the Zaporozhye Nuclear Power Plant on Friday, local authorities told RT. The attack came after Moscow warned Kiev against any attacks on Europe’s largest atomic energy station.
Electronic warfare specialists noticed the flying craft and brought them down, Zaporozhye officials said. One of the drones exploded upon crashing, while two were recovered mostly intact. The lightweight UAVs were armed with PG-7L high-explosive rockets, commonly used with RPG-7 anti-tank launchers.
Explosive ordnance disposal specialists examined the wreckage and decided to destroy the devices on the spot, after documenting the remains for evidentiary purposes.
“Ukraine blew up the Nova Kakhovka hydroelectric power station in order to distract the world from the failures of their much-publicized counteroffensive,” the Zaporozhye authorities said in a statement. “Now they need another disaster, this time a nuclear one, for which they will again blame Russia.”
‘Ukrainian drone’ injures civilians in Russia’s Voronezh
Earlier in the day, another drone crashed into a residential building in the Russian city of Voronezh, injuring three people. While the investigation into the incident is ongoing, the Kremlin described it as a Ukrainian attack against Russian civilian infrastructure. Voronezh is about 260 kilometers from the nearest Ukrainian-held territory.
Moscow has blamed Kiev for Monday’s destruction of the Kakhovka dam, and the resulting flooding of the Dnieper River estuary. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has warned that the disaster may jeopardize the cooling systems of the ZNPP.
Russia’s permanent representative to the UN, Vassily Nebenzia, has urged the Security Council to stop Ukraine from even contemplating an attack on the ZNPP. Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Wednesday that Moscow will “respond extremely harshly to any attacks by Ukraine” on the power plant itself, its infrastructure, or the town of Energodar where its employees live.
The Zaporozhye NPP is Europe’s largest atomic power station, with six reactor cores capable of generating a gigawatt of electricity each. Russian troops have controlled it since March 2022. The region in which it is located voted to join Russia in September that year, though Ukraine claims it is illegally occupied.
Ukrainian artillery has repeatedly targeted both the ZNPP and Energodar. Kiev’s commandos tried to seize the facility last September, just as the IAEA mission was scheduled to arrive on site.