Europe's largest nuclear power plant fire extinguished
The head of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service, Sergey Naryshkin, accuses the West of having aims to encircle Russia with a "new iron curtain... seeking to destroy it."
Russian forces take full control of the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant in southeastern Ukraine, reported the Reuters news agency, quoting the mayor of Enerhodar of Ukraine.
Kiev officials reported a fire at the plant, blaming the Russian forces, which was later extinguished.
"As a result of continuous enemy shelling of buildings and units of the largest nuclear power plant in Europe, the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant is on fire," Dmytro Orlov said on his Telegram channel.
The agency noted that the Zaporizhia plant is the largest nuclear power plant in Europe.
In addition, the head of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service, Sergey Naryshkin, accused Western countries of "seeking to destroy Russia," explaining that the military operation was in response to Kiev's desire to obtain nuclear weapons.
Today, Thursday, sources told Al Mayadeen's correspondent in Moscow that the special operation forces destroyed 13 biology laboratories in Ukraine, adding that some of the destroyed were underground.
'Essential Equipment' of plant unaffected: IAEA
The fire near the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant (NPP) has not affected its essential equipment, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said.
"#Ukraine tells IAEA that fire at site of #Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant has not affected 'essential' equipment, plant personnel taking mitigatory actions," the IAEA tweeted.
Earlier, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said it had put its Incident and Emergency Center in full 24/7 response mode over the situation around the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant (NPP).
UK calls for UNSC meeting over situation at Zaporizhzhia NPP
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has held a phone conversation with Volodymyr Zelensky, vowing to call an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council within the next several hours over the situation at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant (NPP), the Downing Street said.
"The Prime Minister spoke to Ukrainian President Zelenskyy in the early hours of this morning about the gravely concerning situation at Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station. Both leaders agreed that Russia must immediately cease its attack on the power station and allow unfettered access for emergency services to the plant," the Downing Street said in a statement.
"The Prime Minister said he would be seeking an emergency UN Security Council meeting in the coming hours, and that the UK would raise this issue immediately with Russia and close partners. Both leaders agreed a ceasefire was crucial," the statement added.
Russian efforts to prevent Ukraine from acquiring nuclear weapons
In early March, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov announced that Russia is taking all measures to prevent Ukraine from acquiring nuclear weapons.
On February 26, the third day after the beginning of Russia's special operation in Ukraine, the Russian army published the first scenes from inside the Chernobyl nuclear plant, located in northern Ukraine.
The Russian soldiers secured and protected the station, carrying out searches for mines or any threat that might endanger the safety of the station.
On February 24, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the launch of a special military operation in Ukraine, stressing that "the totality of events and analysis of information shows that a confrontation between Russia and nationalist forces in Ukraine is inevitable... it is a matter of time." He pointed out that "Russia will not allow Ukraine to acquire nuclear weapons."
On the same day, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said Moscow's military operation in Ukraine is not a beginning of a war, but rather an attempt at curbing a global one.
"First of all, it is not a beginning of a war. It is very important. Our desire is to prevent the developments that could escalate into a global war. Second of all, it is the end of a war," Zakharova told NTV, a Russian broadcaster.
Before the start of the Russian military operation, on the 20th of last month, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky announced at the Munich Security Conference that he would start consultations within the framework of reconsidering the Budapest Memorandum.
Zelensky told the Munich Security Conference he "instructed the Foreign Ministry to convene a summit of the countries - signatories to the Budapest Memorandum. If it fails to take place or refuses to give Ukraine security guarantees, Kiev will recognize it as well as the clauses signed in 1994 as null and void."
The Budapest Memorandum, signed on December 5, 1994, by Britain, Russia, the United States, and Ukraine, provided guarantees for Ukraine's security and territorial integrity, in exchange for Kiev's abandonment of nuclear weapons.