Russia accused of ‘kidnapping’ head of Ukraine nuclear plant
- Russian forces stopped Ihor Murashov’s car, blindfolded him and then took him to an undisclosed location, Ukrainian state nuclear company Energoatom says
- Murashov’s detention jeopardises safety of Ukraine and Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, Energoatom president adds
Russian forces seized the director-general of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, Ihor Murashov, around 4pm local time on Friday, Ukrainian state nuclear company Energoatom said. That was just hours after Putin, in a sharp escalation of his war, signed treaties to absorb Moscow-controlled Ukrainian territory into Russia.
Energoatom said Russian troops stopped Murashov’s car, blindfolded him and then took him to an undisclosed location.
“His detention by (Russia) jeopardises the safety of Ukraine and Europe’s largest nuclear power plant,” said Energoatom president Petro Kotin.
Kotin demanded that Russia immediately release Murashov.
Russia did not immediately acknowledge seizing the plant director. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which has staff at the plant, said it was seeking information about Murashov’s capture.
“We have contacted Russian authorities and are requesting clarifications,” a spokesperson for the IAEA, the United Nations nuclear watchdog, said on Saturday.
Ukraine’s military also claimed on Saturday that Russia would need to deploy cadets before they complete their training because of a lack of manpower in the war. Putin ordered a mass mobilisation of Russian army reservists last week to supplement his troops in Ukraine, and thousands of men have fled the country to avoid the call-up.
The Ukrainian military’s general staff said cadets at the Tyumen Military School and at the Ryazan Airborne School would be sent to participate in Russia’s mobilisation. It offered no details on how it gathered the information, though Kyiv has electronically intercepted mobile phone calls from Russian soldiers amid the conflict.
In a daily intelligence briefing, the British Defence Ministry highlighted an attack Friday in the city of Zaporizhzhia that killed 30 people and wounded 88 others.
The British military said the Russians “almost certainly” struck a humanitarian convoy there with S-300 anti-aircraft missiles. Russia was increasingly using anti-aircraft missiles to conduct attacks on the ground likely due to a lack of munitions, the British said on Saturday.
“Russia’s stock of such missiles is highly likely limited and is a high-value resource designed to shoot down modern aircraft and incoming missiles, rather than for use against ground targets,” the British said.
“Its use in ground attack role has almost certainly been driven by overall munitions shortages, particularly longer-range precision missiles.”
The British briefing noted the attack came while Putin was preparing to sign the annexation treaties.
“Russia is expending strategically valuable military assets in attempts to achieve tactical advantage and in the process is killing civilians it now claims are its own citizens,” it said.
Additional reporting by Reuters