Russian forces have captured Ukraine's largest nuclear power plant after striking it with a "projectile" causing a fire, leading to worries of a nuclear catastrophe that could affect Europe for decades.
The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant is Russia's latest prize, a key holding point near Enerhodar, Ukraine. It was seized by Russian troops Friday morning after a dangerous and incredibly risky attack.
After some anxious overnight hours, threats of any nuclear danger were extinguished with reports the fire had been put out, and the reactor unit wasn't damaged.
The nuclear plant operator reports managers are working at gunpoint. Safety experts warn that waging war around nuclear facilities could mean extreme risks for the site which happens to be Europe's biggest nuclear plant.
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Friday, ministers of NATO met for an emergency meeting in Brussels to address the mounting crises.
"Every ally in one way or another is helping to strengthen NATO itself," said U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken. "And as the Secretary-General (Jens Stoltenberg) said, ours is a defensive alliance. We seek no conflict. But if conflict comes to us, we are ready and we will defend every inch of NATO territory."
Ukraine is surrounded from all sides. Looming warships seen off the coast of the Black Sea threaten the city of Odessa, while inching closer to strategic southern port cities.
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The fighting remains intense elsewhere as well. In Mariupol, civilians are taking the brunt of Russian aggression. Shelling has destroyed access to water and electricity. Russia is expected to take over soon.
French President Emmanuel Macron believes the worst of the fighting is still to come after talking to Vladimir Putin on the phone Thursday. Macron says Putin wants to take control of all of Ukraine. And the Russian war machine inches closer to the capital of Kyiv.
Ukrainians Given Stingers and Javelins to Fight Back
Despite the onslaught, Ukrainians have been fighting back with the help of key weaponry from countries like the United States. A recent shipment of stinger anti-aircraft missiles, capable of shooting down helicopters, was sent to Ukraine's army. In addition, the Biden administration has asked Congress for $32 billion in emergency spending to support Ukraine in its fight against Russia's invasion.
Michael O'Hanlon, senior fellow at the Brookings Institute, says stingers are key in this war.
"The stingers can be used in a so-called 'shoulder-launch' mode," O'Hanlon said. "They are infrared missiles that don't have quite the range or altitude of a radar-guided missile, but they have the ability to be stealthy. They just need their own passive infrared system to hone in on a target. The Russians won't even know what's coming."
Another weapon helping Ukrainians on the ground is Javelin Missiles – similar to a stinger but build to destroy enemy tanks.
"With the extent of the road network in Ukraine and the amount of conditions that prevail this year, like snow and mud, the Russians can't move down anything other than roads," O'Hanlon said. "So if the Russians are moving down predictable arteries, the Ukrainians can range up and down those roads with Javelin weapons and take down a lot of vehicles. I think that's why this 40-mile Russian convoy struggles so much to keep going – it's just got these kinds of obstacles and weapons up against it."
Other key weapons they can use include: Stugna-P anti-tank missile systems, the Bohdana Wheeled self-propelled Howitzer, and the T-64BV MOD 2017 Ukrainian Tank. But O'Hanlon believes the shoulder-launched Stinger and Javelin missiles have been most effective.
Civilians have their own weapons. CBN's George Thomas in Ukraine says Lviv's largest brewery has turned into a bomb-making factory for the war.
"A Molotov cocktail (consists of) gasoline, and some sort of oil base (like pineapple or soap shavings)," Thomas said. "You light the fuse and basically throw it at a tank. And the idea is to throw it and aim the bottle around the engine and the chains of the tank. This may seem primitive but it's very effective and we've seen that around the world. It just shows what the Ukrainian people are willing to do in order to preserve their nation and independence, and fight for freedom."
And even if – or when – Russia does capture Ukraine, the people could still keep fighting back in an insurgency that could lead to years of guerrilla warfare. That could pose a massive problem for Putin.
"He's made a big mistake and he's got to find a way to minimize his exposure," O'Hanlon said. "Otherwise, he could have the same kind of saga in Ukraine that we had in Iraq or Afghanistan – or worse."