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Nuclear plant in Ukraine threatened, US may send long-range weapons

Jun 30, 2023

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The fate of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant is once again in jeopardy. Ukraine said Russian authorities are evacuating personnel from the facility, and may be planning to blow it up.

The nuclear plant is the largest in Europe. Since seizing control of the plant last year, Russian troops use it as a base for their military operations. Over the course of the last year, both sides accused the other of targeting the facility.

On June 30, Ukraine’s military intelligence directorate said Russia told workers at the plant to leave the area and go to Crimea. Russian military patrols were also reportedly being scaled back.

The chief of military intelligence in Ukraine, Kyrylo Budanov, said Russia placed mines around four of the six power units at the ZNPP, as well as the cooling pond. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Russia’s plot to blow the plant would amount to terrorism.

U.S. Sens. Lindsay Graham, R-S.C., and Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., introduced a bipartisan resolution aimed at stopping any use of nuclear weapons in Ukraine, including blowing up a nuclear facility.

“I applaud President Biden for putting on the table that the threat of Putin using a nuclear weapon in Ukraine is real. Our message is to those around Putin. If you do this, if you follow his order, if he ever gives it, you can expect a massive response from NATO. You will be at war with NATO.” Sen. Graham said during a press conference on June 22.

It’s important to point out the proposal from Sens. Graham and Blumenthal is a resolution, so it would not be legally binding. However, the fact two high-ranking members of the United States Senate are laying out a case for NATO potentially getting involved in the war in Ukraine can’t be overlooked.

The uncertainty about the plant’s future could be a contributing factor into why the Biden White House is suddenly mulling the decision to send Army Tactical Missile Systems, or ATACMS, to Ukraine.

The change in attitude over ATACMS was first reported by The Wall Street Journal. The short-range ballistic missiles can accurately hit targets at about 200 miles. They can be fired from HIMARS launchers, of which Ukraine has plenty. ATACMS represent a significant upgrade in both power and range over any other precision guided weapon Ukraine has at its disposal.

Like tanks, jet fighters and other long-range weapons, Ukraine has been asking for ATACMS since the war began. If the U.S. finally follows through and makes good on the request, then Ukraine would immediately be able to attack Russian targets throughout occupied Crimea, and potentially cut the Russian forces in half.

With a foothold in Crimea, Ukraine would be in a better position to target Russia’s Black Sea Fleet too. This is all happening while Poland is in talks to send Ukraine Kongsberg Naval Strike Missiles, a fortuitous bit of timing from one of Ukraine’s closest allies. The NSMs don’t have as much range as ATACMS, but they can still hit targets that are 124 miles away, whether they’re on land or at sea.

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THE FATE OF THE ZAPORIZHZHIA NUCLEAR POWER PLANT IS ONCE AGAIN IN JEOPARDY. UKRAINE SAID RUSSIAN AUTHORITIES ARE EVACUATING PERSONNEL FROM THE FACILITY, AND MAY BE PLANNING TO BLOW IT UP.

THE NUCLEAR PLANT IS THE LARGEST IN EUROPE. SINCE SEIZING CONTROL OF THE PLANT LAST YEAR, RUSSIAN TROOPS USE IT AS A BASE FOR THEIR MILITARY OPERATIONS. OVER THE COURSE OF THE LAST YEAR, BOTH SIDES ACCUSED THE OTHER OF TARGETING THE FACILITY.

NOW, UKRAINE’S MILITARY INTELLIGENCE DIRECTORATE SAYS RUSSIA TOLD WORKERS AT THE PLANT TO LEAVE THE AREA AND GO TO CRIMEA. RUSSIAN MILITARY PATROLS ARE ALSO BEING SCALED BACK.

THE HEAD OF MILITARY INTELLIGENCE IN UKRAINE SAID RUSSIA PLACED MINES AROUND FOUR OF THE SIX POWER UNITS AS WELL AS THE PLANT’S COOLING POND. UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY SAID RUSSIA’S PLOT TO BLOW THE PLANT WOULD AMOUNT TO TERRORISM.

U.S. SENATORS LINDSAY GRAHAM AND RICHARD BLUMENTHAL INTRODUCED A BIPARTISAN RESOLUTION LAST WEEK, AIMED AT STOPPING ANY USE OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS IN UKRAINE, INCLUDING BLOWING UP A NUCLEAR FACILITY.

Sen Graham: I applaud President Biden for putting on the table that the threat of Putin using a nuclear weapon in Ukraine is real. Our message is to those around Putin. If you do this, if you follow his order, if he ever gives it, you can expect a massive response from NATO. You will be at war with NATO

NOW, IT’S IMPORTANT TO POINT OUT THE PROPOSAL FROM GRAHAM AND BLUMENTHAL IS A RESOLUTION, SO IT WOULD NOT BE LEGALLY BINDING. BUT THE FACT TWO HIGH RANKING MEMBERS OF THE UNITED STATES SENATE ARE LAYING OUT A CASE FOR NATO POTENTIALLY GETTING INVOLVED IN THE WAR IN UKRAINE CAN’T BE OVERLOOKED.

THE UNCERTAINTY ABOUT THE PLANT’S FUTURE COULD BE A CONTRIBUTING FACTOR INTO WHY THE BIDEN WHITE HOUSE IS SUDDENLY MULLING THE DECISION TO SEND ARMY TACTICAL MISSILE SYSTEMS, OR ATACMS, TO UKRAINE.

THE SHORT-RANGE BALLISTIC MISSILES CAN ACCURATELY HIT TARGETS AT ABOUT 200 MILES. THEY CAN BE FIRED FROM HIMARS LAUNCHERS, OF WHICH UKRAINE HAS PLENTY. ATACMS REPRESENT A SIGNIFICANT UPGRADE IN BOTH POWER AND RANGE OVER ANY OTHER PRECISION GUIDED WEAPON UKRAINE HAS AT ITS DISPOSAL.

LIKE TANKS, PLANES AND OTHER LONG-RANGE WEAPONS UKRAINE HAS BEEN ASKING FOR ATACMS SINCE THE WAR BEGAN. IF THE U.S. FINALLY FOLLOWS THROUGH AND MAKES GOOD ON THE REQUEST, THEN UKRAINE WOULD IMMEDIATELY BE ABLE TO ATTACK RUSSIAN TARGETS THROUGHOUT MOST OF OCCUPIED CRIMEA, AND POTENTIALLY CUT THE RUSSIAN FORCES IN HALF.

WITH A FOOTHOLD IN CRIMEA, UKRAINE WOULD BE IN A BETTER POSITION TO TARGET RUSSIA’S BLACK SEA FLEET TOO. THIS IS ALL HAPPENING WHILE POLAND IS IN TALKS TO SEND UKRAINE KONGSBERG NAVAL STRIKE MISSILES, A FORTUITOUS BIT OF TIMING FROM ONE OF UKRAINE’S CLOSEST ALLIES.

THE NSMs DON’T HAVE AS MUCH RANGE AS ATACMS, BUT THEY CAN STILL HIT TARGETS THAT ARE 124 MILES AWAY WHETHER THEY’RE ON LAND OR AT SEA.

FOR MORE UNBIASED, STRAIGHT FACT REPORTING ABOUT THE WAR IN UKRAINE, CHECK OUT S-A-N DOT COM.

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