By: Hannah Stoughton
March 4th, 2022: Russia attacked and gained control over a nuclear power plant in Ukraine in an overnight attack on March 3rd.
After an attack on the largest European power plant, the whole world was in fear of another nuclear fallout in Ukraine.
During the attack, the plant was set on fire, similar to what happened in Chernobyl in 1986. When a poorly regulated reactor malfunctioned, steam explosions and fires set the Chernobyl powerplant ablaze, causing massive nuclear fallout and releasing chemicals into the environment. Because of this similarity, the entire world was terrified that a repeat of what happened in Pripyat would happen again.
Firefighters were able to extinguish the flames, and it was noted that no radiation had leaked into the environment. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that an explosion at this plant would be “the end for everyone. The end for Europe. The evacuation of Europe.”
Despite the powerplant surviving this attack, the worry for all of Ukraine’s 15 nuclear power plants continues. “These plants are now in a situation that few people ever seriously contemplated when they were originally built,” said Edwin Lyman, a scientist from the Union of Concerned Scientists in Washington. “No nuclear plant has been designed to withstand a potential threat of a full-scale military attack.”
The attack, despite being a show of force from the Russians, could have resulted in a complete catastrophe for both Ukrainians and Russians. If the attack would have created a nuclear fallout, the radiation would have blown directly into Russian territory because of the intense winds, something that makes Dr. Alex Rosen believe that the precision of the attack was overestimated. “Russia cannot have any interest in contaminating its own territory,” he said.
Because of the attack, Zelenskyy has once again asked the West to provide protection and enforce a “no-fly zone” overtop of Ukraine, which the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, or NATO, has declined. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg explained that in order to enforce the zone, they would have to shoot down Russian planes that fly over Ukraine. “We understand the desperation, but we also believe that if we did that, we would end up with something that could end in a full-fledged war in Europe,” Stoltenberg said.
In a recent update, Ukraine and Russia agreed to set up safe corridors for civilians that want to evacuate as well as deliver food and medicine to those in need.
Russian invasions have dismantled the electricity, water, heating, and other necessary utilities for citizens. Most phone service is currently inaccessible. According to the Ukrainian Presidential Adviser Oleksiy Arestovich, there is now a tense struggle with the humanitarian aspect of the war.
The Ukrainians are fighting the Russians off as best as they can, with President Zelenskyy leading the way. The dark times in Eastern Europe have spurred many protests, peace-callings, petitions, and more. Zelenskyy has addressed these people saying, “If we fall, you will fall. And if we win, and I’m sure we’ll win, this will be the victory of the whole democratic world. This will be the victory of our freedom. This will be the victory of light over darkness, of freedom over slavery.”