The United States embassy in Ukraine on Friday called Russia’s attack on a nuclear power plant a “war crime.”
“It is a war crime to attack a nuclear power plant. Putin’s shelling of Europe’s largest nuclear plant takes his reign of terror one step further,” the embassy said in a statement.
Russia’s attack led to a fire, but it was extinguished without damaging any of the six nuclear reactors.
Multiple western governments sharply criticized Russia’s attack, and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that Russia’s actions were reckless enough to “have stopped the story, the history of Ukraine, the history of Europe,” adding that any explosion at the plant could have equaled “six Chernobyls.”
The strike came a week after Russian forces seized Chernobyl, the site of the 1986 nuclear disaster.
Zelenskyy has emerged as an international symbol of Ukraine’s resistance to Russia’s unprovoked invasion, opting to stay in the country even as he was offered asylum in the west. He said that he spoke to Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida after the attack, which he described as “nuclear terrorism.”
“We both agree on the gravity of threats to global security,” Zelenskyy said, later adding, “Together we oppose the aggressor.”
He also responded to the United Nations’ establishing an inquiry into the attack shortly after it happened. “Evidence will be documented and used in international courts. Russian war criminals will be held accountable,” Zelenskyy said.