Return to Recent Articles menu

The twin terrors of Zaporizhzhya

6 September 2022

A Russian soldier stands guard near the Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine.

The recent visit by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors to the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant has laid bare an absolutely terrifying tale of nuclear brinkmanship.

For some time, the Ukrainian government has been claiming that Russia has been shelling the plant and has called for IAEA inspections. Russia has responded by pointing out that they occupy the plant and are not shelling themselves. It was suggested that Kyiv wanted to end Russian control by persuading the UN to demilitarise the area. The Russians agreed to the inspection.

What happened next was bizarre. Having called for the inspection, the Ukrainian authorities then postponed it. When it went ahead the delegation was held up by Ukrainian forces short of their destination.

The reason for the delay was soon clear. A commando raid was launched to establish a bridgehead next to the power plant. That was defeated by the Russians, who also drove off a larger force towards the other side of the plant.

The IAEA were being used as cover. Kyiv believed that the Russians would wind down their presence before their arrival. This would allow a takeover just before the inspection team arrived and the team would then serve as a shield preventing a Russian counterattack. Details provided by Russia suggest that the chaotic plan was directed by British special forces embedded alongside the local military.

Rather than being embarrassed by the failure of this scheme, Zelensky then attacked the IAEA for not doing their job and for failing to defend the right of Ukrainian "journalists" to enter the plant.

The Ukrainian forces then staged further attacks with the inspectors still on site. Zaporizhzhya was first reduced to one working reactor and one emergency output line and then went offline altogether. Unless there is a local ceasefire the plant will either close down completely or there will be an incident involving the release of radioactive materials into the skies above Europe. Zelensky, having continued the assault, now warns of nuclear catastrophe in an attempt to force direct military intervention by the West. That's frightening.

Almost as frightening is the idea that millions of working-class people, the potential targets, have no way of getting a clear picture of the risks facing them. The Western media, led by the BBC, have consistently reported that Russia was shelling the nuclear plant, despite the fact that Russian forces are occupying the area and the fact that the stacked spy satellites and drones above Ukraine can easily identify the source of the attacks. The insane attempt to use the nuclear inspectors as cover for the seizure of Zaporizhzhya and the ferocious attacks that are still occurring, are simply not reported.

Independent journalists, like Chris Hedges and John Pilger, have an explanation.  On the one hand the state has criminalised much of journalism through their attacks on people such as Julian Assange.  Large corporations dominate the press and social media. For their part many journalists cooperate, embedding themselves in military units, reading press releases from outside hotels far from the front line, going on supervised "dog and pony" shows organised by the state.

Hedges offers a good description, but behind this lies the deeper problem of lack of opposition. Unions refuse to organise active support for Assange. US Democrats are even more prowar than Republicans. In Britain Sir Keir Starmer is able to make support for NATO a condition of Labour Party membership.

The starting point in building an anti-war movement is to build a workers press that will tell the truth.  The elements of such a press are all around us, swamped by the official media. The task is to draw them together.

Such a press would supply explanations for the Zaporizhzhya attacks. There is one aspect that gives the game away. There would be no need to seize the plant if Kyiv was expecting to roll back the Russian forces.  They don't expect to do so. That means that thousands are dying in a futile battle that will eventually lead to negotiations.

Why? One answer would be a suppressed CNN report that two-thirds of western military supplies never reach the front line and disappear into the black market. Another would be the billions of US dollars keeping the Zelensky regime afloat. Another would be to situate the war in the attempt by the Biden regime to set up the conditions for war across the globe, especially against China.

We will not hear this story from the mainstream media.

Return to top of page