Who Is Shelling The Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant?

The Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, Via Wikipedia Commons

What’s Not Being Said

This week, Ukrainian President Zelensky claimed that the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, which has been controlled by Russian troops since February 28th, was shut down due to shelling by the Russians.

The Russian Ministry of Defense, in its most recent update on the progress of its “special military operation” in the Ukraine, claims the Ukrainians have been shelling the plant, with U.S.-supplied artillery, and Russia says it gave evidence that the Ukrainians have been shelling the plant to the UN this week.

Screen capture from MoD Russia’s English-language Telegram account.

This sounds like the sort of accusation the United States would be quick to refute: that weapons we’ve supplied to the Ukrainian government are being used to risk a nuclear disaster. Why haven’t they?

A Journalist Finally Asks The Question

During a Special Online Briefing on Thursday with U.S. Ambassador Denise Jenkins, the Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security at the State Department, Dmitry Kirsanov, from Russia’s TASS News Agency, asked her who was shelling the plant. Here is the relevant part of the transcript.

MODERATOR: Thank you, ma’am. The next question, again, to a journalist who is raising their hand from Dmitry Kirsanov, who is from the TASS News Agency.

QUESTION: Hi. Thank you for doing this. Can you hear me okay?

MODERATOR: Yes, we hear you.


MODERATOR: Good morning, Madam Secretary. I have two separate questions. First, who is shelling the station? And secondly, while we have you here, could you update us on the talks or consultations or discussions, if you prefer, between the Russians and the Americans on the New START, on the issues pertaining to the inspections resumption? Thank you so much.

AMBASSADOR JENKINS: I’m not able, at this point, to make any confirmation about the shelling and where it’s coming from. 

Bear in mind that the United States has been surveilling the Ukraine via satellites and aircraft since before Russia invaded. One would think that if the Russians were shelling the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (despite having their troops stationed there), and falsely accusing the Ukrainians of doing it, Ambassador Jenkins or one of her colleagues would be quick to refute the Russians by showing satellite- or surveillance aircraft-gathered evidence of artillery hitting the plant from Russian-controlled territory.

On the other hand, if the Ukrainians are shelling the largest nuclear power plant in Europe with American-supplied artillery, you’d think someone in the U.S. government would ask them to cut it out. 

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