Russia-Ukraine war: While the war between Russia and Ukraine has escalated into the 12th day, the Russian Ministry of Defence (MoD) has accused Kyiv of preparing for provocation using potential radioactive contamination of an area near Kharkov in east Ukraine. As per the Russian authorities, Ukrainian nationalists have mined a nuclear reactor at an experimental facility at the Kharkov Institute of Physics and Technology, which will possibly be blown up by the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), along with Azov neo-nazi militants in an attempt to blame Russian military of a missile attack, TASS, a Russian news agency reported.

“Nationalists mined a reactor at an experimental nuclear system located at the [National Research Center of] Kharkov Institute of Physics and Technology. The Ukrainian military and the Azov battalion militants are planning to blow up the reactor and accuse the Russian Armed Forces of allegedly launching a missile strike on an experimental nuclear system,” Russian Ministry of Defence (MoD) said, as quoted by TASS.

“The Security Forces of Ukraine along with the militants of the Azov battalion are plotting a provocation with possible radioactive contamination of the area near the city of Kharkov,” the statement added.

The fresh set of accusations came after Russia held Kyiv accountable for allegedly attempted provocation at Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) in southern Ukraine on Friday. Moscow emphasised that the fire in a building erupted after rampant gunshot exchange by the Ukrainian sabotage unit. As per Sputnik, the saboteurs targetted a group of Russian soldiers patrolling an area close to the station. A counter-shootout forces the Ukrainian sabotage unit to retreat, setting the building on fire.

The fire was later put out and the radiation level was ascertained to be at normal levels. “The physical and nuclear safety of the plant is reliably protected,” the Kremlin said, as cited by Sputnik. On Sunday, Russian President Vladimir Putin, during his call with French counterpart Emmanuel Macron also confirmed that both Russian militaries have “continue to ensure” normal operations of the NPP with Ukrainian security units and personnel.

It is to note that the Chernobyl nuclear site is also under the control of Russian forces after they invaded and annexed the power plant site on February 25. According to Russia, the forces are stationed at the site to prevent Ukrainian radicals from conducting sabotage at the radioactive facility. “All of this is being done to rule out the prospect of Ukrainian neo-nazis or terrorists staging provocations with potentially disastrous results,” Russia’s MoD said.