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Zelensky Wanted to Use Nuclear Plant Provocation to Make West Impose No-Fly Zone – Ex-Ukrainian PM

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky wanted to use a fire at the Zaporozhskaya nuclear power plant in order to make the West impose a no-fly zone over the country, former Ukrainian Prime Minister Nikolay Azarov has said.

The ex-official described the incident at the NPP as a deliberate provocation that was carefully designed.

“No sane Russian or Ukrainian serviceman would have dared to endanger one of the biggest nuclear power plants in Europe, which has six reactors”, the former Ukrainian PM said.

Azarov then pointed to President Zelensky’s reaction to the news – a request to the West introduce a no-fly zone over Ukraine. “The fire occurred at night and he immediately addressed the United States and Britain. This shows that it was a planned provocation”, he said.

Azarov’s statement echoes that of the Russian Defence Ministry. On Friday, Major General Igor Konashenkov said that a group of Russian National Guard officers came under attack from Ukrainian saboteurs while patrolling the territory of the Zaporozhskaya NPP.

The Russian servicemen repelled the attack, but as the saboteurs were leaving they set the plant on fire, Konashenkov said. The Russian Defence Ministry emphasised that the plant’s employees are working as normal and are monitoring the situation.

Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Rafael Grossi confirmed there was no radiation release as a result of the incident and said the safety systems of the six reactors were not affected by the fire.

On Friday, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the issue of introducing a no-fly zone was mentioned during the extraordinary meeting of the alliance’s foreign ministers, but noted that NATO believes that its planes and forces should not be sent to Ukraine.

On 24 February, Russia launched a special operation in Ukraine. It was ordered by Russian President Vladimir Putin and according to the head of state its aim is to “de-Nazify” and demilitarise Kiev as well as protect the residents of two breakaway regions, the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics (DPR and LPR).

President Putin said that Russia does not plan to occupy Ukraine and that there is no threat to the civilian population as Russian forces are only targeting the country’s military infrastructure – military bases and air defence systems.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky described the Russian special operation as a “full-scale invasion” and rejected statements about Nazis being present in Ukraine. Western nations have thrown their support behind Kiev, condemning Moscow’s actions, and introducing the harshest sanctions on Russia to date.

Commenting on Russia’s special operation, Nikolay Azarov praised Vladimir Putin’s decision, saying the president has saved “hundreds of thousands of lives of the [Donbass] republics.”

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