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Watch: A Russian Missile Nearly Hit a Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine

Video screenshot of Russian missile coming close to hitting a nuclear power plant in Ukraine.

The war in Ukraine seems to be getting more and more intense by the day, as Russian forces are getting pushed back thanks to a bold offensive by Ukraine. But recent events remind us that the war could become a nuclear crisis any moment: 

A Russian missile landed less than 1,000 feet from Ukraine’s second-largest nuclear power plant, the country’s military and state energy operator said on Monday.

Ukraine’s defense ministry shared a video of security footage near the South Ukraine Nuclear Power Plant, in the country’s southern Mykolaiv region, with a timestamp of 12:19 a.m. local time.

The black-and-white video appeared to show the moment the Russian missile struck, illuminating a dark scene with a fireball that was immediately followed by larger second fireball.

“A missile fell 300 meters from the plant,” Ukraine’s defense ministry said, adding that the Kremlin’s “nuclear terrorism continues” and arguing that Russia “is the threat to the whole world.”

Energoatom, Ukraine’s state nuclear operator, blamed the attack on “Russian terrorists” and said the strike landed close to the plant’s reactors.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), a top nuclear watchdog, did not immediately publish a statement or assessment of any potential damage. The New York Times, however, quoted Energoatom saying  there was damage to a hydroelectric power station near the nuclear plant but not to any of the plant’s essential safety equipment.

Ukraine’s nuclear facilities have not been immune to fighting throughout the nearly seven-month-long war. Fighting near the country’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant — which is the largest in Europe and has been occupied by Russian forces since March — has raised the alarms at watchdog agencies like the IAEA.

International inspectors have said that reckless shelling could trigger a nuclear disaster and have urged hostilities to cease.

Monday’s strike near the South Ukraine Nuclear Power Plant comes after Western intelligence warned that Russian forces are increasingly targeting civilian infrastructure as President Vladimir Putin’s forces continue suffer major battlefield defeats in the face of successful Ukrainian counteroffensive moves.

Last week, for example, Russian forces fired a volley of missiles at a local hydraulic structure in the central Ukrainian city of Kryvyi Rih — President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s hometown — in what officials said was “revenge” for Ukraine’s punishing military advances.

In areas from which Russian forces recently retreated, Ukrainian troops have discovered mass graves and other evidence of wartime atrocities reminiscent of scenes from the Kyiv suburbs that were liberated from Russian occupation during the spring.

Jake Epstein is a Junior Breaking News Reporter on the Speed Desk, based in Boston at Insider, where this first appeared. Prior, he worked at The Times of Israel, freelanced in the Boston area, and interned at CBS Boston. He graduated from Lehigh University with a degree in journalism and international relations in May 2020. At Lehigh, he was the editor in chief of the independent student newspaper The Brown and White.

Written By

Jake Epstein is a Junior Breaking News Reporter on the Speed Desk, based in Boston.