Russia may be “setting the conditions” for blaming Ukraine for an upcoming “false flag” attack on the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, according to the Institute for the Study of War (ISW), a think tank based in USA.

The Ukrainian military claimed on Tuesday that Russia was planning a “provocation” that would take place “in the nearest future”, alleging that “objects resembling explosive devices” were recently seen placed on the roof of the facility. A Russian nuclear adviser claimed on the same day that Ukraine planned to attack the plant on Wednesday using “long-range and high-precision weapons”.

Ukrainian forces are currently waging a counteroffensive that has seen the country regain control of part of its previously occupied territory nearly 18 months after the Russia-Ukraine war. Fighting near the nuclear plant and counter-offensive activities in the area have raised fears of an explosion or radiation leak, which could have disastrous consequences for the surrounding area.

An ISW ​​report released Tuesday night said Russia was “unlikely to generate a radiological incident” in the near future, while accusing the Kremlin of engaging in rhetoric that was “part of a broader information operation.” of Russia” designed to paint Ukraine as “irresponsible” and stop the counteroffensive in Zaporizhzhia.

Russia Ukraine False Flag Zaporizhzhia Nuclear ISW
The Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant is pictured in southern Ukraine on June 15, 2023. Ukraine and Russia have accused each other of planning a ‘false flag’ attack on the plant.

“Russian and Ukrainian officials stepped up their rhetoric around the situation at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP) on July 4, but Russia is likely to focus on accusing Ukraine of irresponsible actions around the ZNPP, including setting conditions for a potential false flag attack,” the statement said. ISW report state

“Such provocative Russian statements, and even the possibility of a tangible provocation at the plant, are probably part of a larger Russian information operation aimed at accusing Ukraine of irresponsibility in the ZNPP before the next NATO summit and deterring Ukrainian forces to carry out counteroffensive operations”. against the occupied Zaporizhzhia Oblast,” he continues.

During his nightly televised address, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky saying that military intelligence had discovered “that the Russian military placed explosive-like items on the roofs of various power units” at the Zaporizhzhia plant.

Zelensky said the suspected explosives may have been placed at the facility as part of an attempt to “simulate an impact on the station” or as part of another “script” by Russia.

“In any case, the world sees, and cannot fail to see, that the only source of danger for the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant is Russia itself and no one else,” Zelensky said.

However, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said on Friday that on-site inspectors had not discovered any explosive materials at the plant despite Ukraine having repeatedly claimed that Russia was planting explosives.

Ukraine and Russia have a history of accusing each other of planning “false flag” attacks at the Zaporizhzhia plant, which Russia seized control of weeks after the war began in February 2022.

Ukraine said that “intelligence officials believe that the Russians are preparing a provocation” at the facility on August 19, 2022. Russia’s Defense Ministry claimed that Ukraine planned to carry out a “false flag attack” on the same day. . None of the attacks occurred.

ISW also suggested that Russia was planning false flag attacks that failed to materialize in the past. In February, the think tank claimed that Russia was planning attacks to drag Belarus into the war and “undermine” the Moldovan government.

news week has reached out to the Russian and Ukrainian defense ministries by email for comment.

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