As the first brisk winds of a harsh winter arrive in Europe, the Russian invasion of Ukraine is entering a slower, more deliberate phase.
Soon, Russia’s recent work to damage Ukraine’s infrastructure will begin to pay off for the Kremlin, both physically and emotionally. The months of cold and dark isn’t meant to simply drive Ukrainians way, but to wear them down mentally, allowing the cruelty to continue even when the shelling stops.
But in the days before the tomb-like weather arrives, Russia still has some desperate and dangerous maneuvers up there sleeve.
The Ukrainian atomic energy agency accused Russia on Monday of flouting nuclear safety by sending a “kamikaze” drone over part of the South Ukraine Nuclear Power Plant in the Mykolaiv region just after midnight.
Energoatom said the Iranian-made Shahed drone had been detected at 00:46 early Monday over the station and said it was calling on the international nuclear community to protect atomic sites from the risks of war.
“This is an absolutely unacceptable violation of nuclear and radiation safety,” Energoatom wrote on the Telegram messaging app.
The Kremlin already has a history of harassing Ukraine’s nuclear power plants.
Invading Russian forces currently occupy another Ukrainian nuclear power plant, the Zaporizhzhia complex, Europe’s largest, near front lines in Ukraine’s southeast. Talks are ongoing to establish a safety zone around the plant.
Both sides have accused the another of shelling the Zaporizhzhia site and Ukraine has said Russian forces are pressuring its Ukrainian staff, including through violence, to sign contracts with a subsidiary of Russia’s atomic agency.
The Kremlin has appeared, at times, to be looking for an excuse for the conflict to turn nuclear, and this latest military malfeasance signals to the world that this hasn’t changed.