This week, I spoke with my old friend Dr. Edward Lozansky who received his Ph.D in theoretical nuclear physics from the National Research Nuclear University in Moscow.
Lozansky was born in Kyiv, capital of Ukraine.
Currently, he divides his time between Washington and Moscow.
Before he emigrated from the Soviet Union in 1976, Lozansky worked in the Moscow's Institute of Atomic Energy and Joint Institute for Nuclear Research.
Our recent conversation was focused on the recent fighting near the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, which supplies 20% of Ukraine’s electricity.
In March 2022, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, wrote on his Twitter account:
"Russian army is firing from all sides upon Zaporizhzhia NPP, the largest nuclear power plant in Europe. Fire has already broke out. If it blows up, it will be 10 times larger than Chernobyl! Russians must IMMEDIATELY cease the fire, allow firefighters, establish a security zone!"
This month the danger has returned to this power plant. On Aug. 6, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Rafael Mariano Grossi said:
"I’m extremely concerned by the shelling yesterday at Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, which underlines the very real risk of a nuclear disaster that could threaten public health and the environment in Ukraine and beyond."
It reminds me of that scene in "Broken Arrow," when John Travolta’s character asked, "Would you mind not shooting at the thermonuclear weapons?"
We must end this conflict before things get worse.
It's irresponsible for world leaders to permit another Chernobyl.
Lozansky believes that this current war could have been averted:
"The only thing needed for Ukraine after collapse of USSR was to choose a neutral status thus enjoying the benefits of friendly relations with both, the West and Russia with whom it had strong historical, family, economic, cultural and religious ties.
"Unfortunately, Ukraine did not take this road."
He also believes that since the Russians control this plant and surrounding areas it would be pretty odd if they decided to shell this territory.
"Russians keep urging U.N. to send their investigating mission as soon as possible but to no avail," says Lozansky.
Grossi wants to send a team of IAEA safeguard inspectors to Ukraine to investigate the status of the Zaporizhzya facility. Grossi said
"That this vital mission has not yet happened is not because of the IAEA. Despite our determined efforts, it has not been possible, so far. I will not give up. I will continue to push – and push again – for this IAEA mission to finally take place. But this will need the cooperation, understanding and facilitation from both Ukraine and Russia.”
Lozansky is wondering who is preventing the IAEA from taking this trip.
While I don’t agree with Lozansky on every political issue, I would never presume to argue with him about nuclear physics. He is clearly worried that the fighting could cause a disaster that is even worse than Chernobyl.
As for the ongoing war, the fact is that the Ukrainians are losing this conflict.
The secretary of National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine, Oleksiy Danilov, told The Daily Beast this week that it would be "impossible" to defeat Russia unless the West increases their military assistance.
A ceasefire at this time might be helpful for the Ukrainians and prevent the Russians from gaining more territory.
It will also give the IAEA enough time to investigate Ukraine’s nuclear reactors in Russian-occupied territory.
I don’t know if the European Union can divorce themselves completely from Russia due to their energy policies. I also think that the Russian people want to remain part of Europe.
Many Russians are resentful of the 1990s because they believe the West took advantage of them. The West believes that the Russians should adopt their values.
Did this dysfunctional relationship make this war inevitable?
I think the answer to this crisis lies in Russia’s history. I always believed that Peter the Great was a formidable czar. Putin admires his territorial conquests.
But Peter the Great was the type of Russian nationalist who wasn’t afraid to admit that Russia was behind technologically. Peter believed that Russia could not compete with the Europeans unless the Russians learned from them.
Today, Russia needs pro-Western nationalists like Peter the Great. The West needs Peter’s humility to build a mutually respectful relationship with the Russian people.
Most of all, the Ukrainians need a ceasefire, and Peter’s tenacity, to rebuild their country.
Robert Zapesochny is a researcher and writer whose work focuses on foreign affairs, national security and presidential history. He has been published in numerous outlets, including The American Spectator, the Washington Times, and The American Conservative. When he's not writing, Robert works for a medical research company in New York. Read Robert Zapesochny's Reports — More Here.
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