DIPLOMATIC ECONOMY

Russian Forces Capture Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, Says Ukrainian PM

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The Chernobyl nuclear power plant and the exclusion zone around it has been captured by Russian forces, Prime Minister Denys Shmygal said on February 24.

“Unfortunately, I have to say that, as of now, the Chernobyl zone, the so-called exclusion zone, and all Chernobyl facilities have been taken under control by Russian armed groups,” Shmygal told a news briefing after an extraordinary cabinet meeting in Kyiv.

“According to the leadership of the Chornobyl Exclusion Zone, there are no victims at the moment,” he said, adding the further information will released after clarification.

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Russian forces captured the power plant, the site of the world’s worst nuclear disaster, after a “fierce” battle on the first day of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, an adviser to the head of the president’s office said.

“After the absolutely senseless attack of the Russians in this direction, it is impossible to say that the Chernobyl nuclear power plant is safe. This is one of the most serious threats to Europe today,” said the adviser, Mykhailo Podolyak.

The Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said it had been told of the takeover by Ukraine.

IAEA Director-General Rafael Mariano Grossi called for “maximum restraint” to avoid actions that could put Ukraine’s nuclear facilities at risk.

The State Nuclear Regulatory Inspectorate of Ukraine (SNRCU) informed the (IAEA) that all Chernobyl facilities, including storage facilities for spent nuclear fuel, in the exclusion zone were taken under armed control.

The military unit that had been assigned to guard the facilities has been disarmed, the SNRCU said.

There were no deaths or injuries, and no changes in the radiation situation have been observed, the regulator said. It also said the integrity of the protective barriers of nuclear facilities was not violated.

Some Russian military massed in the Chernobyl exclusion zone before crossing into Ukraine early on February 24, a Russian security source said, according to Reuters.

Russia wants to control the Chernobyl nuclear reactor to signal to NATO not to interfere militarily, the source told the agency.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy announced earlier that Russian forces were trying to seize the Chernobyl nuclear plant.

“Russian occupying forces are trying to take over the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant. Our soldiers are giving their lives so that the tragedy of 1986 does not happen again,” Zelenskiy said on Twitter.

He said Kyiv’s forces are fighting off Russian troops for control of the Chernobyl plant, which spewed radioactive waste across Europe when one of its nuclear reactors exploded in April 1986.

Fighting in the exclusion zone raised fears it could trigger a large-scale environmental disaster, Ukrainian officials said.

The plant, which lies 130 kilometers north of Kyiv, has been decommissioned, and the reactor that exploded has been covered by a protective shelter to prevent radiation from leaking.

Interior Ministry adviser Anton Herashchenko said earlier that Russian troops entered the zone of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant from Belarus.

“If as a result of the occupiers’ artillery strikes the nuclear waste storage facility is destroyed, the radioactive dust may cover the territories of Ukraine, Belarus and the EU countries,” he said.

 

 

 

 

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