Russia has been controlling Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, Zaporizhzhia in Ukraine since March after its military intervention in Ukraine.

Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Plant has been targeted continuously and the area adjacent has been shelled. Ukraine and Russia blamed each other for the attacks.

The accusations are not verified independently, but the risk of a nuclear disaster is increasing daily. Since the Russian army attacked Ukraine, regional security has been highly threatened.

Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant
Russian army’s attack on Ukraine threatened regional security

If the world states are unable to stop Russia, then other states’ sovereignty and regional integrity are also in danger. But the interference of other states will also intensify the ongoing conflict and create a war-like situation.

Hence, the US, NATO, and other European states are not sending their military troops to support Ukraine. Moreover, history has shown that US military presence in different states did not successfully achieve its goals, particularly in Afghanistan and during the Vietnam war.

US fears that if the same happened in Ukraine, it would further damage the image of the US as a global power. On the other hand, global condemnation and economic sanctions play a significant role in restricting the realist desires of several states.

Harsh economic sanctions changed the behavior of the authoritarian leader of Iran in 2015 and restricts its nuclear developments because, without an economy, it becomes very difficult for a state to survive.

This is the reason that G7, which was influenced by Western thoughts, responded to the shelling of the Zaporizhzhia plant and condemned Russia.

G7’s response to the shelling Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant

The Group of Seven (G7) is an inter-governmental political forum comprising France, Germany, Canada, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The G7 brings together the developed countries of the globe to address global challenges.

In this ongoing conflict, G7 Foreign Ministers blamed Russia for shelling the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant because Russia continuously attacked Ukraine.

G7 demanded that Russia give back control of all the territory, including the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant to Ukraine, which resulted in chaos.

G7 claimed that Russia’s control of the plant threatened the region while the Ukraine operations were secure and safe. In this regard, G7 is supporting an International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) mission to the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant to address nuclear security and safety issues.

G7 also supports the IAEA in respecting Ukrainian sovereignty over its facilities and territory and encourages all the states to support the efforts of the IAEA. If a nuclear disaster takes place in the region, the consequences will be more severe than the Hiroshima and Nagasaki attacks of 1945.

Director General of the IAEA Rafael Mariano Grossi is also working closely in the region to establish a nuclear safety and protection zone around the Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant.

Russian interests

The conflict started when Russian President, Vladimir Putin said on 21 February 2022 that there were two separatist areas in Eastern Ukraine which included Donetsk People’s Republic and Luhansk People’s Republic.

Russia recognized the independence of these regions and invaded with its military forces for peacekeeping operations. Soon the Russian forces covered Ukraine’s borders from all sides.

Russia also denies a complete demilitarization of the area around the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant. The main aim of Russia is not to support the separatist region in Ukraine.

It is the Russian geostrategy in the 21st century to regain its influence on the region, which Russia lost after the disintegration of the USSR, and to contain the NATO expansion in the region which poses serious economic and political threats to the Russian strategy.

If NATO expands in the post-Soviet region, then Russia will not be able to pursue its strategy. Ukraine and NATO have a very close partnership, and Ukraine wants to become a member of NATO.

If the alliance will happen then NATO will control the Black Sea which is the main trade route through the sea that connects Russia to the world major markets in Europe and other regions.

Russian intervention in Ukraine is a big step for Russia to secure its economic and political interests. Russian President Vladimir Putin’s political behavior also plays a major in the Ukraine conflict.

President Vladimir Putin believes that the best way to achieve real security for a state is to maintain political authority in the state and make that state a global power to secure its geopolitical interests.  

In Russia, President Vladimir Putin implements this strategy to achieve his goals. G7 called Russian intervention in Ukraine, a war on Europe and criticized Russia. If Russia controls the largest European Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Plant, then it will threaten the whole European security.

Russia can also use the nuclear plant to become a global power against the US and any other state who challenges the Russian rise. Although the acquisition of one plant is not enough to compete with the USA.

But it will support Russia in becoming an influential regional power. That’s why Russia does not want to step back from the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant and the continuous confrontation with Ukraine put regional security in danger.

It is important to push back Russia from Ukraine to protect Europe from a Nuclear disaster. For that, the world needs to stand with Ukraine against Russia because the Russian aggression not only affected European security but also resulted in the food and energy security crisis in the whole world.

International support for Ukraine

G7 and several other states’ severe economic sanctions on Russia were made to weaken the economy of Russia to oppress its forces to move back.

Other than sanctions, there are no military forces provided to the Ukraine army by the US or any European state. But the US, with its allies, provided financial assistance and training to the Ukrainian military.

The US has committed $9.8 billion, and the UK has committed £2.3 billion for the military assistance of Ukraine. In the case of the Russian attack on Ukraine and control of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, severe economic sanctions on Russia and continuous humanitarian and military assistance by G7 for Ukraine is a great effort to push back Russia.

But it has not proved to be much effective against Russia. However, IAEA is playing a major role in the protection of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant.


*The writer is a Fellow at The Diplomatic Insight, published by the Institute of Peace and Diplomatic Studies 

**The Diplomatic Insight does not take any position on issues and the views represented herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Diplomatic Insight and its staff.