A part of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant is controlled by Chechen armed forces, a Ukrainian military organization said on Sunday.
The forces in question, called the Akhmat Rapid Response Special Unit, are led by a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin: Chechen Ramzan Kadyrov.
“Part of the station is known to have been controlled by a Kadyrov group… which placed equipment and weapons directly into turbine halls #1 and #2,” the National Resistance Center said in a statement.
The center is a military organization designed to support and coordinate Ukrainian troops.
On Wednesday, Chechen leader Kadyrov wrote in a Telegram message that his unit is located in Enerhodar, a city near the Zaporizhzhia plant. He accused the Ukrainians of firing “on the coast of Enerhodar, its industrial zone and the Zaporizhzhia NPP”.
Remember: The Zaporizhzhia power plant, the largest nuclear complex of its kind in Europe, was taken over by Russian forces at the start of the war.
In its statement, the Center for National Resilience also said that “Russia is trying to connect the Zaporizhzhia NPP to its energy system as soon as possible.”
“The occupiers are taking steps to convert ZNPP’s spent nuclear fuel storage system to Russian standards, as well as adapting all ZNPP nuclear reactors to use Russian fuel assemblies,” the Center wrote.
CNN cannot independently verify these claims.
More context: The Republic of Chechnya is a region in the North Caucasus of Russia.
Russian forces fought a brutal war for control of the territory in the mid-1990s and early 2000s. Kadyrov was once a guerrilla who fought against Russia before switching sides.
During the Second Chechen War, which coincided with the rise of Putin, Kadyrov helped Moscow wrest control of the Chechen Republic from separatist rebels.
Kadyrov has been accused by independent international observers of serious human rights violations in his country and abroad. He leads large paramilitary forces that, while formally part of Russia’s security structures, have personal loyalty to him.