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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

Zaporizhzhya, Inside Job: Russia's Most Likely Nuclear Weapon Isn't A Missile

Ukraine is warning about a possible terrorist attack on the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant, which Moscow's military has occupied since the early days of the invasion. The U.S. Senate warns that, in that case, NATO is ready to enter the war.

Image of IAEA director general Rafael Mariano Grossi touring Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant

29 March 2023: Escorted by Ukrainian officials, IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi tours Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant and its surrounding area during his second official visit to Ukraine.


The Main Intelligence Directorate of Ukraine recently reported that Russia is considering an attack on the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant. The plant, the largest in Europe, has been occupied by Russian troops since the very early days of the full-scale invasion.

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Russian troops have turned the plant into a heavily fortified military base: the reactor's cooling system is mined, and ammunition depots have reportedly been placed in the radioactive waste storage department. Moscow's military also runs the plant itself, and even Russian nuclear experts who were transported to Zaporizhzhya take orders from local generals.

The area around the station is mined, and missiles and ballistic missiles have been launched from nearby bases. Observers from the International Atomic Energy Agency can no longer get to the plant, and their previous visits were useless.

Beyond Chernobyl 

“Russia is using the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant as an element of aggression,” President Volodymyr Zelenskyy recently said. “Now, our intelligence has received information that Russia is considering a scenario of a terrorist attack at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant – a terrorist attack with a radiation release.”

You will be at war with NATO.

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham and Democrat Richard Blumenthal have introduced a resolution in the U.S. Senate that would consider actions of Russia, Belarus or proxies an attack on NATO, if they lead to radioactive contamination of the allies' territory.

“Our message is directed to those around (Vladimir) Putin: if you do this – if you follow his order, if he ever gives it, you can expect a massive response from NATO, and you will be at war with NATO," Graham said.

Under the proposed bill, in the event of a nuclear attack or an accident leading to radioactive contamination, the U.S. would invoke Article 5 of the NATO charter, which states that an attack on one NATO member is an attack on NATO as a whole.

Neither of the nuclear accidents at Chernobyl in 1986 or Fukushima in 2011 allows us to compare or guess the consequences of the deliberate destruction of a nuclear power plant.

Image of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Russian President Vladimir Putin.


Irreparable damage

"Zaporizhzhya is on the Dnipro river; getting into the water, radioactive substances contaminate the river and the Black and Azov seas. In the atmosphere, they form a radioactive cloud, and only the wind direction will determine which area will be contaminated,” notes Andrey Ryzhenko, a former captain in the Ukrainian armed forces.

The Doomsday Clock was forward

In January, the Doomsday Clock was moved forward another 10 seconds and set at 90 seconds to midnight. If anything, this seems optimistic.

Last November, Ukrainian intelligence reported that the Russian command was planning to blow up the Kakhovska hydroelectric power plant. Even though the plant was occupied and mined, at the time, no one considered Zelensky's warnings – which turned out earlier this month to be true.

Now, Zaporizhzhya is in the same situation. An attack there would lead to irreparable damage to the whole planet – and could precede NATO’s entry into the war with Russia, when the world as we know it would simply cease to exist.

As we've learned over nearly a century, nuclear bombs and missiles are the final option. But Russia has no need to use its atomic arsenal as such: there are six nuclear reactors at Zaporizhya, whose power would be devastating if unleashed.

It is naive to think that the threat of war with NATO will affect Vladimir Putin. Based on his beliefs and rhetoric, he already believes Russia is fighting with the whole world, not just Ukraine. Now, only force and courage can bring the world back from the brink of the abyss.

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In The Shantytowns Of Buenos Aires, Proof That Neighbors Function Better Than Cities

Residents of the most disadvantaged peripheries of the Argentine capital are pushed to collaborate in the absence of municipal support. They build homes and create services that should be public. It is both admirable, and deplorable.

A person with blonde hair stands half hidden behind the brick wall infront of a house

A resident of Villa Palito, La Matanza, stands at their gate. August 21, 2020, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Guillermo Tella


BUENOS AIRES – In Argentina, the increasing urgency of the urban poor's housing and public services needs has starkly revealed an absence of municipal policies, which may even be deliberate.

With urban development, local administrations seem dazzled, or blinded, by the city center's lights. Thus they select and strengthen mechanisms that heighten zonal and social inequalities, forcing the less-well-off to live "on the edge" and "behind" in all senses of these words. Likewise, territorial interventions by social actors have both a symbolic and material impact, particularly on marginal or "frontier" zones that are the focus of viewpoints about living "inside," "outside" or "behind."

The center and the periphery produce very different social perceptions. Living on the periphery is to live "behind," in an inevitable state of marginality. The periphery is a complex system of inequalities in terms of housing provision, infrastructures, facilities and transport.

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