Ukraine's First Lady Olena Zelensky warns Europe of nuclear disaster 'equal to six Chernobyls'

The largest nuclear plant in Europe was set on fire last night after Russian forces hit the compound with shells

Ukraine's First Lady Olena Zelensky warns Europe of nuclear disaster 'equal to six Chernobyls'
(Image credit: Getty)

The First Lady of Ukraine has issued a terrifying message for European leaders, warning that President Putin's 'nuclear threat' could lead to a 'disaster six times worse than Chernobyl.' 

Olena Zelenka, the wife of President Zelenskyy, has urged the world to continue its solidarity with Ukraine in light of Russia's seizure of Europe's largest nuclear power plant on Thursday. 

Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant in Enerhodar was set on fire last night, after shelling from Russian troops hit the complex. 

Emergency services have since extinguished the blaze and no fatalities have been reported. The Ukraine Regulatory Authority has reassured the public that there "was no reported change in radiation levels at the plant." However, the full scale of the damage remains unknown. 

Ukraine power plant

Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant has been seized by Russian forces

(Image credit: Getty)

The International Atomic Energy Agency said that the "operator has reported that the situation remains very challenging and therefore it has not yet been possible to access the whole site to assess that all safety systems are fully functional." 

These concerns echo those of the Ukrainian state inspectorate for nuclear regulation, who warned that "loss of the possibility to cool down nuclear fuel will lead to significant radioactive releases into the environment." 

First Lady Olena Zelenska has taken to Instagram to highlight the potential danger of the Russian leader's actions for the international community—and especially European nations. 

"The whole world knows about the Chernobyl tragedy. Zaporizhzhia NPP is several times bigger and more powerful. An explosion will be a disaster equal to six Chernobyls," she warned. "Obviously, this is what the aggressor wants. Putin has promised a nuclear threat, and he brings it to life." 

Zelenska, who shared a message for Russian mothers earlier this week, went on to warn of the devastating consequences such an explosion would cause. 

"Radiation has no boundaries. This catastrophe will affect everyone: Russia, Europe, and the whole world if it happens," she said. "But we are not Putin. We do not want radiation sickness for the children of the world!" 

The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, the ninth-largest in the world, was completed in 1995 after nine years of construction. With a total output of 5,700MW, it holds enough energy to power about 4 million homes across Ukraine. The giant compound sits in the southeast of the country, over 700km from the capital, Kyiv. 

Emma Dooney
Lifestyle News Writer

Hailing from the lovely city of Dublin, Emma mainly covers the Royal Family and the entertainment world, as well as the occasional health and wellness feature. Always up for a good conversation, she has a passion for interviewing everyone from A-list celebrities to the local GP - or just about anyone who will chat to her, really.

Emma holds an MA in International Journalism from City, University of London, and a BA in English Literature from Trinity College Dublin.