Rocket fragment from Ukraine War
Rocket fragment from Ukraine War iStock

A Russian missile blasted a crater close to a nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine on Monday, in what Ukrainian authorities denounced as an act of “nuclear terrorism”, The Associated Press reported.

The missile struck within 300 meters of the reactors at the South Ukraine Nuclear Power Plant near the city of Yuzhnoukrainsk in Mykolaiv province, leaving a hole 2 meters deep and 4 meters wide, said Ukrainian nuclear operator Energoatom.

The reactors were operating normally and no employees were injured, it said, but the proximity of the strike renewed fears that Russia's nearly seven-month-long war in Ukraine might produce a radiation disaster.

The industrial complex that includes the South Ukraine plant sits along the Southern Bug River about 300 kilometers south of the capital, Kyiv. The attack caused the temporary shutdown of a nearby hydroelectric power plant and shattered more than 100 windows at the complex, Ukrainian authorities said.

This nuclear power station is Ukraine’s second-largest after the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, which has repeatedly come under fire.

The Zaporizhzhia complex has been occupied by Russian forces and operated by Ukrainian workers since the early days of the war.

Russia and Ukraine have accused each other of shelling the nuclear installation, sparking fears of a nuclear accident. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) recently called for the creation of a “safety zone” around the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant.

The attack on South Ukraine Nuclear Power Plant comes as Russia has suffered some setbacks after being repelled by Ukrainian forces who have launched a counterattack in recent days.

Russia's forces left Izium and other parts of the Kharkiv region two weeks ago amid the Ukrainian counteroffensive. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said last week his country’s forces had recaptured 6,000 square kilometers (2,320 square miles) of territory from Russia this month.