Ukraine: Strikes reported near nuclear power station

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The news comes as the Russian invasion of Ukraine enters its 166th day and Western powers continue to supply Ukraine with defensive equipment. Fiery rhetoric by Russian state television has repeatedly called for nuclear strikes on Western targets including London and New York, often accompanied by elaborate computer-assisted models of the destruction that will be caused.

The latest blunder faced by Putin shows an ICBM carrier with what appears to be a missile mounted on the back.

In an almost head-on collision, the remains of a sedan-type vehicle can be seen crushed in front of the truck which did not itself appear to be damaged during the incident.

The image of the accident was shared on Twitter by Jane’s Defence analysts Tom Bullock.

Writing next to the image, Mr Bullock said: “Recent car crash in Russia.”

Exact details of the crash have yet to be established, yet fears the truck was carrying a live missile were quickly quelled by sources who stated the vehicle was in fact a training version of the ICBM carrier.

Empty shells of missiles can be filled with water or sand to replicate the weight of a true missile and provide trainee drivers with the skills needed to manoeuvre heavy loads and practise safe braking procedures.

The Topol intercontinental ballistic missile, which was initially feared to be on the back of the ‘crashed’ carrier, is 22.7 meters long, travels at 16,400 mph and carried a warhead of one megaton, enough to destroy much of London with a single detonation.

Although highly powerful, the Topol lacks the size and capability of the larger SARMAT missile also known as the SATAN II, which can carry up to 14 nuclear warheads in one payload.

Russia has the world’s largest supply of nuclear weapons with over 6,250 weapons, followed closely by the US on 5,600.

The next closest nation is China, which is believed to have 350 nuclear warheads.

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Further fears of a nuclear disaster are ongoing in Ukraine as Russian forces occupy the Zaporizhzhia power plant.

With Russian troops allegedly “resting” at the plant, some have said the move to occupy the site has been designed to prevent an attack on the troops due to the protected status of the plant.

However, shelling over the weekend has sparked fears the site could be damaged.

The UN has called for international inspectors to be given access to the nuclear power plant.

The plant is the largest of its type in Europe, containing six pressurised water reactors, at least two of which are currently operational.

So powerful is the output, that the site can supply energy to over 4 million homes.

US secretary of state Antony Blinken has accused the Russians of using the plant as a “nuclear shield” saying: “Of course, the Ukrainians cannot fire back lest there be a terrible accident involving the nuclear plant.”

That has allowed Russia to target areas like the city of Nikopol across the river which has come under heavy shelling in recent weeks.

Fears of damage to the site include concerns over a lack of spare parts should it become damaged, and potential spillage of nuclear waste should a projectile hit the delicate site.

The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Rafael Mariano Grossi, described the ongoing crisis of safety oversight as a dire threat to public health and the environment in Ukraine, and far beyond its borders, describing the situation as “completely out of control.”

He said: “You have a catalogue of things that should never be happening in any nuclear facility.”

While Mr Grossi has suggested a mission to the plant, ironically Ukraine has been blocking the initiative, with Energoatom arguing as recently as June that any visit would legitimise Russia’s presence there.

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