The last working reactor at Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant has been disconnected from the electricity grid due to Russian shelling, according to Ukraine’s state-run nuclear company.
“Today, as a result of a fire caused by shelling, the [last working] transmission line was disconnected,” Energoatom said in a statement on Telegram.
Ukrainian Energy Minister German Galushchenko said on Facebook that Energoatom would seek to repair the line but was not able to do so while fighting raged around the facility.
The embattled nuclear plant has been controlled by Russia since the earliest days of its invasion but operated by Ukrainian engineers.
Both Russia and Ukraine accuse the other of shelling near the facility. Kyiv also accuses Moscow of storing ammunition around the plant and using the facility as a shield for carrying out attacks, charges Russia denies.
The International Atomic Energy Agency sent inspectors to the plant last week and two experts remain at the facility. The U.N. agency is expected to issue a report on its findings this week.
With the nuclear plant in a war zone, world leaders have expressed fears it could be damaged and result in a radiation disaster like that at Ukraine’s Chernobyl plant in 1986.
In other developments Monday, Russia blamed Western sanctions on Moscow for its stoppages of natural gas to Europe.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters that Western sanctions were “causing chaos” for maintenance of the Nord Stream 1 pipeline, which Russian energy giant Gazprom shut down last week after saying it detected an oil leak.
Western officials and engineers have disputed Russia’s claim of mechanical problems with the pipeline. Europe accuses Russia of using its leverage over gas supplies to retaliate against European sanctions.
The energy battles between Europe and Russia led European markets to drop sharply Monday while natural gas prices surged.
Ukraine advocated Monday for “maximum support” for its efforts to defeat Russia in order to blunt economic effects on European allies.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said Russia’s “military aggression against Ukrainians, energy blackmail against EU citizens” were to blame for “rising prices and utility bills in EU countries.”
“Solution: maximum support to Ukraine so that we defeat Putin sooner and he does not harm Europe anymore,” Kuleba tweeted, referring to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The Group of Seven (G-7) nations have proposed capping the price on Russian oil exports to limit Russian profits that help fund Moscow’s war efforts in Ukraine.
Russia, in turn, said it would not sell oil to any countries that implement such a cap.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz promised Sunday that Germany would make it through the winter, telling a news conference in Berlin, “Russia is no longer a reliable energy partner.”
Scholz announced a $65 billion relief plan that includes one-time payments to households, tax breaks for industries that use substantial amounts of fuel and cheaper public transportation options. The Berlin government also plans to guarantee its citizens a certain amount of electricity at a lower cost.