Ukraine's Energoatom energy company said that Russian shells struck the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power facility several times on Thursday, including hitting very close to the first power unit and near the site where radioactive materials are stored, reported DW, quoting agencies.
No injuries were reported and radiation levels remained normal, according to a Energoatom statement
The nuclear power facility is the largest of its kind in Europe, with six reactors. Any damage poses a serious health and environmental hazard.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy accused Russia of "unconcealed nuclear blackmail."
"Only the complete withdrawal of Russians from the territory of the Zaporizhzhia NPP and the restoration of Ukraine's full control over the situation around the plant will guarantee the restoration of nuclear safety for all of Europe," he said during his evening address on Thursday.
Russia-installed local officials instead claimed Ukrainian forces had shelled the plant for the second time in one day, disrupting the shift changeover of power plant workers.
Vladimir Rogov, a member of the Russian-installed regional administration, also wrote on Telegram that at least three strikes were near the radioactive isotope storage facility.
The Zaporizhzhia plant area was also hit by shelling last weekend, with each side trading blame. The facility in Southern Ukraine on the Dnieper river has been under Russian control since the beginning of March. It is still run by its Ukrainian technicians.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba called on Thursday for the International Atomic Energy Agency to send a mission to the plant to assess the safety situation as soon as possible.
Meanwhile, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called on Thursday for an immediate end to military activity near the plant, which Russia seized in March.
Guterres said in a statement that he is "gravely concerned about the unfolding situation in and around the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine."
"I have appealed to all concerned to exercise common sense and reason and not to undertake any actions that might endanger the physical integrity, safety or security of the nuclear plant – the largest of its kind in Europe," he added.
Guterres warned that "instead of de-escalation, over the past several days there have been reports of further deeply worrying incidents that could, if they continue, lead to disaster."
The United States supported calls by the UN and others to establish a demilitarized zone around the Zaporizhzhia plant, the State Department said Thursday.
"We continue to call on Russia to cease all military operations at or near Ukrainian nuclear facilities and return full control to Ukraine, and support Ukrainian calls for a demilitarized zone around the nuclear power plant," said a State Department spokesperson.
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) chief Rafael Grossi said there is currently "no immediate threat" to the safety of the plant as of now due to military actions, but "this could change at any moment."