Russian troops seized a Ukrainian nuclear plant on Friday, known to be the largest nuclear plant in all of Europe. The Zaporizhzhia facility attack was a “reckless assault” according to Reuters, which reported that a potentially dangerous fire had to be extinguished during the attack to avoid a devastating catastrophe.

No radiation has been released, according to senior managers at the Ukrainian nuclear plant, who are concerned about the plant’s maintenance and fear for their safety.

“It just raises the level of potential catastrophe to a level that nobody wants to see,” said Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby, adding that the dangers of fire at the nuclear plant should be considered a “war crime.”

Reuters reported that Russian forces recklessly stormed the facility firing shells and putting out fires, as smoke billowed around the Zapoizhzhia compound in southeast Ukraine.

Luckily only one of the six reactors was in operation during the attack, and the plant was undamaged despite being hit by a Russian projectile. If facilities were struck, it would have led to “nuclear disaster,” according to Ukrainian officials.

“We don’t see any radioactive leakage,” a senior U.S. defense official told NBC News, as Western news sources try to get a hold of just what occurred in the fog of battle in Ukraine.

A representative from the Ukrainian state nuclear plant operator, Energoatom, reported that nuclear levels has since returned back to normal, but that they have lost all communication with staff at the facility.

According to management at the Ukrainian nuclear plant, operators are now working at gunpoint to maintain levels at the station, and that Russian troops “took control of the personnel.”

“One of the things that deeply concerns us, is that we don’t know what expertise they have… or what their intentions are in the near term,” the senior U.S. defense official continued. “All of that is of great concern.”

A civilian building damaged following a Russian rocket attack the city of Kyiv, Ukraine
A civilian building damaged following a Russian rocket attack the city of Kyiv, Ukraine. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

The “reckless assault” raised fears for surrounding countries who feared that Russian President Vladimir Putin would escalate the situation into nuclear war, resulting in fallout across Europe.

Putin stated on Friday that he had “no bad intention” toward neighboring nations but warned against them trying to “escalate the situation.”

Russian military officials allegedly blamed the fire on a “monstrous attack” by Ukrainian saboteurs, but they provided no information to support the claim or explain the assault.

For many Ukrainians, the attack brought back memories of the devastating Chernobyl nuclear disaster in 1986, the world’s largest explosion of its kind that only recently subsided in the past few years. The area, completely blocked off by outside life, was uninhabitable due to the amount of fallout radiation left in the surrounding area.

Earlier this week, it was reported that Russian forced had seized Chernobyl as well and working toward the nearby city of Mykolaiv.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy visiting the front lines
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy visiting the front lines. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

“No country besides Russia has ever fired upon an atomic power plant’s reactors. The first time, the first time in history,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy stated on Friday.

“We must achieve an end to hostilities,” Zelenskyy wrote. “The support of partners is important.”

He called for world leaders to support Ukraine against Russia’s “nuclear terrorism,” and announced that he spoke to the Prime Minister of Japan Fumio Kishida, Korean President Moon Jae-in, and the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Mohamed Bin Zayed.

According to U.S. United Nations ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the world “narrowly averted a nuclear catastrophe.”