In a Facebook post early Friday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky accused Russia of intentionally firing at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, after a fire broke out at the facility following heavy shelling from Russian forces.
Ukrainian authorities say the power plant has not sustained any critical damage, and that radiation levels are currently normal, though the situation remains fluid and firefighters continue to battle the blaze.
“Russian tanks are shooting at the atomic blocks equipped with thermal imagers. They know what they are shooting at. They’ve been preparing for this (attack),” he said in the post.
Zelensky also referred to the Chernobyl tragedy and its victims in the post. "For all Ukrainians, for all Europeans, for all people who know the word 'Chernobyl,' how many victims there were."
The 1986 Chernobyl disaster, which took place in Soviet Ukraine, is considered the worst nuclear accident in history. It was a "global catastrophe that affected the lives of hundreds of thousands of people," and had a lasting impact on the country, Zelensky said.
What's happening now: Ukrainian authorities say fighting has stopped in the area and about 40 firefighters are working to put out the blaze.
"We don’t know how it is going to end with the fire at the station, if there might be an explosion, God forbid," Zelensky said, adding "our guys are keeping the atomic power station secure."
But the very fact Russia launched an attack at the plant is itself an extremely dangerous act and could cause a potential catastrophe, he said. "There are 15 nuclear reactors in Ukraine. If one of them blows, that’s the end for everyone, that’s the end of Europe," he added.
"No country besides Russia has ever fired upon an atomic power plant’s reactors. The first time, the first time in history," he said, urging European leaders to "wake up now" and stop Russian forces “before this becomes a nuclear disaster.”