ZAPORIZHZHIA, Ukraine — Russia has reportedly told workers at the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant not to show up for work on Friday, Ukraine’s military intelligence agency has confirmed exclusively to NBC News.
This comes amid allegations and speculation from both Russia and Ukraine that an incident is being planned at the factory on Friday.
On Thursday, Russia threatened to close the factory, warning there was a risk of man-made disaster due to alleged continued shelling by Ukraine.
But Ukraine has a very different story, according to Andriy Yusov, a spokesman for Ukraine’s defense ministry’s main intelligence agency.
“There is new information, it arrived about half an hour ago, that for tomorrow, August 19, there is an order for the majority of the staff not to go to work,” Yusov told NBC News.
“This is what the Russians told their people, mainly Rosatom employees,” he said, referring to the Russian nuclear agency.
He said this could be evidence that Russia is preparing “large-scale provocations” at the power plant on Friday.
“We do not exclude the possibility of massive Russian provocations on the territory of the ZNPP tomorrow. This is confirmed by their propaganda, information from our sources and the behavior of the Russians at the station,” he added, referring to the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant.
NBC News has reached out to Russia for comment.
Earlier Thursday, Russia’s defense ministry accused Ukraine and what it called its “American handlers” of trying to stage a “minor accident” at the factory in southern Ukraine on Friday in order to blame Russia.
It said the “provocation” was planned to coincide with a visit to Ukraine by United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and that it may involve a radiation leak.
The Zaporizhzhya nuclear reactor complex, the largest in Europe, was captured by Russia shortly after it invaded Ukraine nearly six months ago and was repeatedly shelled, with both Moscow and Kiev blamed for the trade.