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RUSI Plan To Provoke Nuclear Showdown Over Incident at Zaporozhye Nuclear Power Plant Is Now Shaping Policy

June 26, 2023, 2022 (EIRNS)—The Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), which defines itself as “the world’s oldest and the U.K.’s leading defense and security think tank,” has produced a report on April 28, “Dangerous Targets: Civilian Nuclear Infrastructure and the War in Ukraine,” as a policy-planning guidance that the West is now following to escalate toward nuclear war, over an allegation that Russia plans to destroy the Zaporozhye Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP). The report asserts that “Russia may manufacture a radiological incident at the ZNPP or another facility to spoil a Ukrainian offensive,” and that the West should make “clear to Russia that any such incident would be followed by a massive response to mitigate damage.” Under the RUSI scenario of escalation, allies of Kyiv might offer military “personnel” to Ukraine, whose deployment could lead NATO to a direct confrontation with Russia.

RUSI effectively wrote the script for the Congressional resolution that Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) introduced on June 22, stating that if Russia used nuclear weapons in Ukraine, it would be “at war with NATO,” with Blumenthal adding that Russia would face “total obliteration by NATO forces.” Graham writes on his website that the “resolutions views ... the destruction of a nuclear facility, dispersing radioactive contaminants into NATO territory causing significant harm to human life, as an attack on NATO requiring an immediate response, including the implementation of Article V of the North Atlantic Treaty.”

RUSI’s policy appears to be behind the June 23 New Statesman interview in which Ukraine’s Chief of Defense Intelligence Kyrylo Budanov openly lies that “Russia has finished preparations for an attack on the Zaporozhye Nuclear Power Plant,” that would “bring ... about a nuclear accident.” The Times of London headlines its June 22 story, “Zelenskyy Warns of Plot To Blow Up Zaporozhye Nuclear Plant.”

RUSI’s “Dangerous Targets” report states that a direct strike attack on the Russian-occupied Zaporozhye NPP reactor or its dry spent-fuel storage, may not cause a radiological explosion, because the ZNPP design is more advanced than that of the earlier Chernobyl NPP: 

“The release and dispersion of highly radioactive material at a scale comparable to the Chornobyl disaster would require the penetration of a facility housing radioactive material—namely, a reactor or a spent-fuel storage facility—and the large-scale release of that material into the atmosphere and surrounding environment, likely assisted by plumes of smoke from a fire. While this is technically possible, the authors judge it to be unlikely for reasons described below.

“An accidental hit on a reactor unit or a dry spent-fuel storage facility under the current state of military activity around Ukrainian NPPs is unlikely to cause a major radiological incident. The reactors currently operating at Ukrainian NPPs are located within reinforced containment structures, as per IAEA standards. These structures are designed to withstand significant internal and external hazards, including fires, explosions, earthquakes and radioactive release from other accidents,”

the report asserts. RUSI goes on to say that “bunker-busting” or hypersonic missiles “could risk compromise to the facility, especially if repeated hits were delivered against the structure.” But, of course, those would not be accidental, they note.

RUSI then locates the plant’s vulnerabilities, such as the availability of water essential for cooling. The report points out that the ZNPP draws cooling water from a reservoir formed by the Kakhovka Dam, which was destroyed in the early hours of June 6, wiping out the reservoir. The ZNPP is drawing down water from an onsite cooling pond. On June 10, the last of the several reactors at ZNPP was shut down.

The report then states, “This could provide an opportune moment for Russia to manufacture a crisis....” RUSI fantasizes:

“The question is whether Russia convinces itself that it stands to benefit from causing a radiological incident at a Ukrainian NPP. The risk to the lives of its own personnel or Ukrainian civilians is unlikely to deter it from such a course of action. Although there is no evidence that a decision has been made in Moscow to carry out direct nuclear sabotage, variations of this kind of behavior are widely discussed among Russian officials, including those in senior positions relating to the conduct of Russia’s occupation.”

RUSI’s “Dangerous Targets” makes nine recommendations for safety and security at the plant, some of which are normal. However, it then states in its Recommendation 9:

“Establish deterrence against a deliberately manufactured radiological incident by making clear to Russia that any such incident would be followed by a massive response to mitigate damage and expanded support for Ukraine’s war effort. As discussed earlier, Russia may judge a radiological incident in the event of its withdrawal from the ZNPP to be an attractive option—a serious yet controllable escalation. Deterrence must therefore be established by making clear that any such incident will have consequences that are contrary to Russia’s interests. The best means of doing this would be for Ukraine’s international partners to emphasize that a major radiological incident at the ZNPP will lead to the deployment of international CBRN [chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear] troops to assist Ukraine in dealing with the response—and that an attack on these troops will be considered an attack on the states that deployed them. Thus, Russia must believe that any such incident will not reduce the international community’s support for Ukraine. Instead, such an incident would be the basis for expanded support for Kyiv and the direct offer of assistance by deployed personnel from Ukraine’s partners. Given that the Russian leadership knows that it is not able to confront NATO forces, such a position should deter it from believing that Russia could control the consequences of any such action and therefore undermine any calculus that favors rewards over risks.”

That is, after a NATO-Ukrainian manufactured incident, CBRN troops, under NATO direction, would enter the plant area. An incident would be the basis for nations which sent the troops, most of them NATO members, to deploy “personnel,” i.e., troops, to Ukraine’s assistance.

The minds that dreamed up this provocation may have other routes to forcing a confrontation.

Recall that RUSI Deputy Director General Malcolm Chalmers, in a May 20, 2022 report, entitled “This War Still Presents Nuclear Risks—Especially in Relation to Crimea,” methodically discusses how Russia could be forced into a nuclear confrontation with NATO in Crimea, from which, he assumes, Russia would ultimately back down.

The mad RUSI schemers are closely linked to the British royal household. The longstanding President of RUSI is “His Royal Highness The Duke of Kent KG, GCMG, GCVO, ADC.” The Duke of Kent is Prince Edward of the House of Windsor, first cousin of the late Queen Elizabeth; and also a cousin of the late Prince Philip Duke of Edinburgh. HRH The Duke of Kent is in the inner circle of the royal family, and one of a handful of people authorized to speak on behalf of the Windsors.  Lord Louis Mountbatten, a leading member of RUSI, had led a campaign to elevate its status. Lord Mountbatten played an important role in King Charles’s childhood upbringing.

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