On June 20, on Ukrainian TV, the head of Ukraine’s military intelligence Main Directorate (HUR), Kyrylo Budanov, warned that Russians had placed explosive charges at a cooling pond at the seized Zaporizhzhia NPP. If the mines were detonated, the results would be catastrophic. 

Budanov said there is currently “a real threat” to the plant. He noted that by destroying the Kakhovka hydroelectric power plant dam, the Russians had destroyed the regular water access to the plant’s coolers.

“But the worst thing is that Zaporizhzhia NPP was additionally mined during this time. Namely, it was the cooling pond that was mined,” the HUR chief said.

“If [the Russians] disable [the cooler] by blowing it up, there’s a high probability of significant problems.” 

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 Budanov said that he did not link the situation at the Zaporizhzhia NPP to US President Joe Biden’s statement that the threat of Russia using tactical nuclear weapons is “real.”

“We are talking about different things. The risk of using nuclear weapons and an artificial man-made disaster are slightly different things,” Budanov said. 

President Volodymyr Zelensky also stated that after the Kakhovka hydroelectric power plant was blown up, the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant would be the next target of the Russian forces.

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Energoatom and the IAEA have warned that the Kakhovka HPP dam destruction could negatively affect the Zaporizhzhia NPP.

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