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Day 184 Roundup: Power Restarts at Nuclear Plant; Putin Orders 137K Troop Replenishment

    Day 184 Roundup: Power Restarts at Nuclear Plant; Putin Orders 137K Troop Replenishment
    Last updated: 3 months ago
    Image credit: Reuters [via Reuters]

    Facts

    • According to reports published on Fri., power began to be restored to nuclear reactors at the Zaporizhzhia power plant after nearby fires, allegedly caused by shelling, led to a short circuit in the power line connecting the plant to Ukraine's energy grid on Thursday. It was the first time the plant had been cut off from electricity in its 40 years of operation. [1]
    • Vladimir Rogov, a Russian-appointed official in Zaporizhzhia, earlier said that disruptions to the nuclear plant caused electricity outages in Zaporizhzhia, Energodar, Melitopol, and Kherson, and confirmed the plant was forced to rely on backup generators. Power was restored to most regions by Friday. [2]
    • Energoatom, Ukraine's state-owned nuclear company, said in a statement on Fri. that there were no issues with the plant's machinery or its safety systems. Work to reconnect two of the plant's six functioning reactors had been ongoing and was later confirmed to be complete. [3]
    • In his nightly address on Thurs., Ukrainian Pres. Volodymyr Zelenskyy said he had discussed the Zaporizhzhia power plant at length with US Pres. Joe Biden. "I am grateful to him for his understanding and full support of the need to return proper control of the nuclear power plant to Ukraine and immediately ensure access of the IAEA", he said. IAEA director Rafael Grossi also reiterated the need for an urgent visit on Thursday. [4]
    • Elsewhere, Russian Pres. Vladimir Putin issued a decree ordering an increase of Russian troops by 137K, taking the total number of its soldiers to over 1.15M and the overall size of its armed forces to over 2M. The decree didn't specify whether the growth would be accomplished by widening the draft, recruiting more volunteers, or both. [5]
    • On the ground, fighting continued in the Donetsk region where at least 4 civilians were killed and 10 more were injured, Ukrainian and separatist officials confirmed. Ukrainian officials continued to report Russian shelling in Sumy, Kharkiv, Dnipropetrovsk, and Zaporizhzhia with no additional reports of civilian casualties. [6]
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    Spin

    Pro-establishment narrative

    Experts have made it clear – the situation at Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant presents the risk of another Chernobyl. Nuclear disaster has, miraculously, been avoided so far, but continuing risks to the safety and effectiveness of staff to control the reactors could have catastrophic consequences.

    Establishment-critical narrative

    Although Zaporizhzhia's cooling systems will be relatively vulnerable due to their contact with the outside world, the worst-case scenario would only cause serious damage at a local level. Both Russia and Ukraine are overstating the risk of nuclear catastrophe to galvanize domestic support for the invasion and play upon Western fears to incentivize providing military and public support respectively.

    Nerd narrative

    There's a 40% chance that there will be a large-scale armed conflict in Russia before 2030, according to the Metaculus prediction community.

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