Pro-Russian official says security around Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant strengthened

Ukraine’s state-run nuclear power operator, Energoatom, is claiming that Russian forces at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant are “planning to stop the working power units in the near future and disconnect them from the communication lines supplying power to the Ukrainian power system.”

Energoatom’s assertion is the latest in a barrage of accusations made by each side about security and military action at and around the plant, the largest nuclear complex in Europe. The lack of independent access to the plant makes it impossible to verify what is happening there.

The Ukrainian operator said that “currently, the Russian military is looking for suppliers of fuel for diesel generators, which must be turned on after the shutdown of power units and in the absence of an external power supply for nuclear fuel cooling systems.”

While pro-Russian officials are on record as saying their intention is to divert electricity produced at Zaporizhzhia to Russian-occupied parts of Ukraine, no timeline for such action has been announced. 

Energoatom also said that the Russians had told the management of the plant “to limit the admission of personnel to the plant today, August 19. Only operative personnel who ensure the operation of the power units are allowed on the site.”

An administrative worker at the plant told CNN Friday that “we planned to be at work today but on Thursday evening the manager announced that we are sitting at home.” The worker has spoken with CNN on previous occasions; their identity is not being disclosed for their security.

Energoatom blamed Russian forces for several artillery strikes that occurred in the area late Thursday. It said the strikes were at short range. 

CNN is unable to verify what strikes occurred, nor who was responsible. Over the past month, a number of rockets and shells have landed on the territory of the plant, according to satellite imagery analyzed by CNN.