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24 Feb, 2022 16:07

Russian troops ‘trying to seize’ Chernobyl nuclear power plant, Zelensky claims

The Ukrainian president says fighting has been raging in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, site of the 1986 nuclear disaster
Russian troops ‘trying to seize’ Chernobyl nuclear power plant, Zelensky claims

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky tweeted on Thursday evening that Russian troops are trying to capture the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in the northern part of the Kiev Region. The plant was the site of the 1986 disaster, which caused massive contamination of the surrounding area and parts of Europe.

Zelensky claimed there was fighting in Chernobyl hours into Moscow’s “special operation,” which the Kremlin says was launched to protect the breakaway eastern republics in the Donbass.

“Our defenders are giving their lives so that the tragedy of 1986 will not be repeated,” Zelensky tweeted.

The adviser to Ukraine’s interior minister and former MP, Anton Gerashchenko, wrote on social media that Russian forces have crossed into Ukraine from Belarus and entered the exclusion zone set up around the plant after the disaster.

“The national guardsmen, who are protecting the storage of unsafe nuclear waste, are fighting hard,” he claimed. Moscow has not confirmed or denied the situation so far.

When asked whether the Belarusian troops were also fighting in Ukraine, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said earlier on Thursday that “our troops are not taking any part in this operation.”

Russia said it began hitting Ukraine’s military targets on Thursday morning, insisting it was necessary to prevent Kiev’s attacks against the Donetsk (DPR) and Lugansk (LPR) People’s Republics. Moscow recognized the DPR and LPR’s independence from Kiev on Monday, also signing treaties that include military assistance.

The DPR and the LPR have alleged they were facing a full-blown assault on the eve of the operation. Kiev has denied trying to retake the area by force all along, claiming Moscow’s attack was unprovoked and calling on other countries to impose sweeping sanctions on Russia.