Russia claims Ukraine launched drone attack against nuclear power plant in Russian-occupied territory

Virtually all of the hypothetical talk about the possibilities of the Russia-Ukraine conflict escalating to include the use of nuclear weapons appears to revolve around the basic central assumption that it would be Russia that would be the first to unleash such devastatingly powerful weaponry.

However, recent reports appear to indicate that Ukraine could potentially be the culprit by way of an alleged kamikaze-style drone attack on a massive nuclear power plant located in Ukrainian territory currently occupied by Russian forces, the Washington Examiner reported.

To be sure, the cited reports originated from Russian media and a government official, and therefore should be viewed with some skepticism, but that also doesn’t necessarily mean the reports should automatically be presumed false or be summarily dismissed.

Alleged Ukrainian attack on Russian-controlled nuclear power plant

According to the Examiner, the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant — the largest nuclear plant in all of Europe — allegedly came under attack Wednesday by several Ukrainian drones equipped with explosives that crashed into the nuclear complex kamikaze-style.

Russian media outlet RIA News reported that four Ukrainian drones were used in the attack, though a local official claimed that only three drones were actually used.

Vladimir Rogov, a council member of the Russian Civil-Military Administration, claimed that 11 employees at that nuclear power plant were injured in the attack, with at least four of those victims being hospitalized in serious condition. Rogov did note, however, that the purported attack did not appear to target any of the plant’s several nuclear reactors.

Russian news agency TASS reported that Farhan Haq, the deputy spokesman for the United Nation’s general secretary, claimed that the international body had obtained no “first-hand information” on the alleged attack and therefore was unable to confirm or deny that it had actually occurred.

Rogov, however, made several posts to the Telegram social media platform, per the Examiner, that purported to provide details of the damage caused as well as photo and video evidence of the drone attack, including several pictures of wrecked debris that were ostensibly the remnants of the small drones.

Russia is still the most likely culprit for nuclear escalation

To be sure, it is still more probable than not that if nuclear weapons are utilized in the Russia-Ukraine conflict, it will have been Russia that first decided to use them, as evidenced by the near incessant nuclear saber-rattling of Russian President Vladimir Putin and his allies as well as Russia’s own military doctrine that explicitly contemplates and authorizes first-strike nuclear capabilities, according to Newsweek.

In fact, the outlet just reported that the Institute for the Study of War think tank’s most recent assessment of the conflict determined that Russia would most likely be willing to use nuclear weapons against a concerted counteroffensive to reclaim Ukrainian territory that has been captured and occupied and could be formally annexed by Russia.

That occupied territory currently includes Zaporizhzhia, where the nuclear power plant is located, as well as Kherson and the provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk that have effectively been under Russian control since Russian-backed separatists launched a civil war in 2014.

If Russia were to resort to the use of nuclear weapons to defend those acquired territories, they would most likely use relatively small “battlefield” or tactical nukes, though even the use of such limited weapons could provoke a nuclear response from the West that could potentially serve to spark a humanity-decimating exchange of the larger strategic intercontinental ballistic missile variety of nuclear weapons that have been feared for decades.

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