MOSCOW (Reuters): Russia accused the West on Friday of sponsoring “nuclear terrorism” after authorities said a Ukrainian drone had struck the western Russian town of Kurchatov, where a nuclear power station similar to the ill-fated Chernobyl plant is located.
Roman Starovoit, the governor of Russia’s Kursk region which borders Ukraine, said the Ukrainian drone had struck a residential apartment building in Kurchatov, a Soviet-era town built on the banks of a cooling pond for the Kursk nuclear power station which is still in service.
“A drone crashed in the town of Kurchatov overnight,” Starovoit said on the Telegram messaging app. “Fortunately, none of the residents were injured. Critical facilities were not damaged as a result of the drone crash and its subsequent detonation.”
The only damage was to the facade and glazing of one apartment building, he added, saying the authorities would help residents restore their homes.
There was no immediate reaction from Ukraine, which is regularly subjected to massed Russian drone attacks and seldom comments on its own suspected drone and sabotage attacks inside Russia.
The incident, which comes after Russia said it had destroyed two Ukrainian drones near the Kremlin in May, drew a furious reaction from the Russian Foreign Ministry given the drone’s proximity to a nuclear power station.
“Are the countries that supply them (the drones) to the Kyiv regime planning to retire to Mars if there is a nuclear disaster? They won’t have time,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said sarcastically.
“People in NATO countries should realise that their governments are sponsoring nuclear terrorism by the Kyiv regime.”
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia’s air defence systems were working effectively amid unconfirmed social media reports that such systems had been used to repel the drone attack, but said it was obvious that Ukraine was continuing to try to strike targets inside Russia.
Russia’s FSB security service said in August last year that security around nuclear facilities had been beefed up after people it said were Ukrainian saboteurs destroyed electricity lines supplying the Kursk nuclear power plant, temporarily disrupting its functioning.
Alexei Likhachev, the head of Russia’s Rosatom state nuclear corporation, told state TV on Thursday that security at nuclear power plants was “under control” and that all necessary measures had been taken, including air defence capabilities.
Russia and Ukraine have long accused each other of risking a nuclear catastrophe at another facility – the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant on Russian-controlled territory in southern Ukraine – through shelling.