Should a potential Russian attack on the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant(ZNPP) produce a radioactive leak, it would provide sufficient grounds for activating NATO’s Article 5, UK MP and Chair of the parliamentary Defense Select Committee, Tobias Ellwood, said in a Twitter post on Aug. 19.
“Any deliberate damage causing potential radiation leak to a Ukrainian nuclear reactor would be a breach of NATO’s Article 5,” said Ellwood.
Ellwood’s sentiment was echoed by U.S. Congressman Adam Kinzinger (R-IL).
“This really isn’t even up for debate; any leak will kill people in NATO countries, that’s an automatic article 5,” Kinzinger said on Aug. 20.
NATO’s Article 5 is the collective defense clause, which states that an attack on one alliance member is considered an attack against all allies.
The Zaporizhzhia NPP is the largest nuclear power plant in Europe, and has been occupied by Russian forces since March 4. Several ZNPP facilities have been damaged by Russian shelling, and the station's employees are captives of the occupying troops.
The Kremlin uses the facility as cover for its forces, as Ukraine can’t return fire due to the risk of causing a nuclear disaster.
Recently-emerged footage showed numerous Russian military vehicles parked inside the main turbine hall of the facility, some 150 meters away from the nearest reactor.
Ukrainian nuclear operator Enerhoatom warned on Aug. 19 that Russia is planning to disconnect the facility from Ukraine’s power grid, which would put the reactor cooling system offline.
Kyiv is in talks with the IAEA about mounting a monitoring mission to stabilize the situation at the ZNPP, potentially headed by Rafael Grossi, the agency’s chair. The UN said it would also participate.