Volodymyr Zelensky: transcript of Ukraine president’s statement about attack on Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant

“Ukraine has 15 nuclear reactors. If there is a nuclear explosion, this will be the end of everybody. The end of Europe.”

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky has warned that Russia’s targeting of nuclear power plants in his country could spell “the end of Europe”.

The Ukrainian leader, who has remained in the country despite repeated attempts on his life, recorded a video message in the early hours of Friday morning in which he condemned Russia as a “terrorist state”.

Russian forces shelled the power station in the city of Zaporizhzhia overnight, with the attack continuing even as emergency services tried to put out the resulting fire.

Downing Street said the targeting of the nuclear plant could “directly threaten the safety of all of Europe”.

An image grab from footage obtained from a livestream from the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Authority on March 4, 2022 shows multiple blasts at key a Ukrainian nuclear plant in Zaporizhzhia from Russian shelling. (Image credit: Laurent Fievet/Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Authority/AFP via Getty Images)

What did President Zelensky say in his video message?

“Europe has to wake up now. Europe's largest nuclear plant is on fire. At this very moment, Russian tanks are shooting at nuclear reactor blocks.

“These are tanks equipped with the thermal vision devices so they know where they are shooting. They were prepared for this.

“I'm appealing to all Ukrainians, to all Europeans, to all the people who know the word ‘Chernobyl’, to those who know how much misery and victims the nuclear power plant explosion brought.

“It was a global disaster. Hundreds of thousands of people were dealing with the consequences. Dozens of thousands of people were evacuated.

“Russia wants to repeat it and it's already repeating it. But it is six times bigger now.

“We are warning everybody. Not a single state apart from Russia has ever shelled nuclear reactors. It is for the first time in our history, in the history of humankind that the terrorist state turned to nuclear terrorism.

“The Russian propaganda was threatening everybody. We remember to cover the earth with nuclear ashes.

“Now, it is not just a threat. It is our reality. We don't know when the fire on the nuclear power plant will be extinguished. We don't know whether an explosion will happen or not. God forbid that it should. Our men were always keeping the nuclear power plant safe.

“So there were no provocations. Nobody could just go and take over the nuclear power plant, plant explosives there, and then blackmail the entire world with nuclear disaster.

“The Russian military has to be stopped. Call on your politicians immediately. Ukraine has 15 nuclear reactors. If there is a nuclear explosion, this will be the end of everybody. The end of Europe.”

Where is the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant?

Zaporizhzhia power plant (Graphic: NationalWorld)

Bombardment of the nuclear plant - the biggest in Europe and among the Top 10 largest in the world - began in the early hours of Friday (4 March) morning.

The plant accounts for more than a fifth of the total electricity generated in Ukraine, and was struck by artillery strikes.

A fire broke out at an educational and training building located perilously close to one of the plant’s six nuclear reactors, although no “essential” equipment was damaged.

After an intense battle, Russian troops were able to occupy the power plant after confirming that there were no changes to radiation levels

Downing Street said the targeting of the nuclear plant could “directly threaten the safety of all of Europe”.

Justice Secretary Dominic Raab said the offensive means more than ever that the international community needs to “come down hard on (Russian President Vladimir) Putin”.

Mr Raab told Times Radio: “It is clearly reckless, irresponsible and not only the fact they were shooting, bombarding that particular site, but when the Ukrainian emergency authorities were trying to put out the fire, the shelling continued.

“It must stop.

“We support the Ukrainians in dealing with the security situation there, but also I think come down hard on Vladimir Putin.”

He added: “It is an affront to the world at large.”

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