Russian troops on Friday seized Europe’s largest nuclear plant in eastern Ukraine after a bloody battle that triggered global alarm, The New York Times reports.
Ukraine said Russian troops shelled the power plant and engaged in a gun battle with Ukrainian troops, setting an administrative building at the plant on fire and preventing firefighters from gaining access.
Firefighters were ultimately able to put the fire out and international monitors said Friday that there is no sign of a nuclear leak at the Zaporizhzhia plant.
Three Ukrainian soldiers were killed and two others were injured before Russia seized control of the plant and held workers at gunpoint.
"It is a war crime to attack a nuclear power plant," the US Embassy in Ukraine said on Twitter.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called it a “nuclear terror” attack that could have caused “the end of everything. The end of Europe.”
UN to investigate possible war crimes:
The United Nations Human Rights Council voted on Friday to investigate possible war crimes and human rights violations in Ukraine.
The council will set up a three-person investigative commission that will compile evidence to bring to international entities, including the International Criminal Court.
An International Criminal Court prosecutor said earlier this week that the court will “immediately proceed” with a war crime investigation into Russia’s aggression stemming back to 2013.
The probe will include “any past and present allegations of war crimes, crimes against humanity or genocide committed on any part of the territory of Ukraine by any person”.
NATO rules out no-fly zone:
NATO on Friday rejected pleas from Ukrainians to establish a no-fly zone over Ukraine over concerns that it will trigger an all-out world war.
“Allies agree we should not have NATO planes operating in Ukrainian air space or NATO troops on Ukraine’s territory,” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Friday, warning of the potential for a greater conflict.
“We will provide support, but we will not be part of the conflict,” he said.