Russia has indeed been mining the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Energodar, and storing shells of “different capacity and different power” right in the shops. The information previously reported by The Insider's sources has been confirmed by Mykhailo Podolyak, advisor to the head of the Ukrainian presidential office, during The Insider’s online stream. Meanwhile, Ukraine and the Russian Defense Ministry continue to blame each other for the strikes.
According to Podolyak, there is a large number of troops at the plant site, including artillery. Russia has turned the nuclear power plant into a military facility in violation of safety standards, which has led to extraordinary risks. Podolyak also noted Rosatom's poor performance:
“There's no team there that understands what it's doing and what's going on there. Because the key task was to try and steal something: Russia has been doing it all over Ukraine. Here it wants to re-orient the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant in order to supply cheap electricity to the Crimean Peninsula and the occupied territories. And to minimize the costs they incur because of the occupation”.
Podolyak added that Rosatom wants to earn a dividend as part of a short-term strategy. He urged the international community not to wait “until something bad happens or until it’s Chernobyl all over again” and preventively get rid of Russia’s presence at the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant. This will require extremely tough statements by the relevant international organizations, he said.
On August 5, Russia fired several shots at the Zaporizhzhia NPP from multiple rocket launchers (MLRS), with a total of three “hits” on the plant site recorded. At the same time, the pro-Russian authorities of the occupied Energodar blamed Ukraine for the shelling of the Zaporizhzhya NPP. Ukraine's Energoatom said emergency protection had been triggered after the strikes and called the incident “nuclear terrorism on the part of Russia.”
The Insider's sources at the ZNPP reported suspicious activity by Russian troops at the plant. There is also a video of Russian military trucks entering the plant and unloading some kind of cargo. According to the source, the engine room was mined. According to another source, there are about 500 Russian soldiers and military equipment, including APCs, anti-aircraft guns and radiochemical reconnaissance gear at the site, and the area around the plant has been mined by Russian troops.
Energoatom claimed that the Russian military was forcing ZNPP employees to drain the cooling pools. According to the ministry, a provocation was being prepared: the Russians were going to accuse the Ukrainian workers of storing weapons at the plant. For this purpose, several employees were detained and tortured to make them confess that back in March they had allegedly dumped some kind of weapons - explosives or shells - into the concrete bowls of the cooling ponds at the ZNPP. In July, a ZNPP hydropower plant diver Andrei Goncharuk was tortured and killed by the Russian military, after attempts to make him “come up with a justification for the necessity of draining the cooling ponds.”