Russian military confirms seizure of Chernobyl nuclear power plant
Moscow confirmed on Friday that its paratroopers seized the area surrounding the closed Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine’s northern Kiev Region, which was the site of a major disaster in 1986.
The Russian Defense Ministry claimed its troops struck a deal with Ukrainian soldiers to jointly maintain the safety of the reactors and the so-called New Safe Confinement – a giant shield-like structure built around the damaged reactor unit. The ministry added that the radiation level had not changed, and the plant’s staff were continuing to monitor the situation as usual.
Ukraine’s state nuclear agency, meanwhile, released a statement, saying the radiation levels “have been exceeded at a significant number of observation points.” It said the data came from its automated radiation monitoring system, adding that it was impossible to determine what exactly had caused the reported increase in radiation.
Kiev has not confirmed the claim about an agreement having been reached with the Russians regarding the plant. On Thursday, Ukrainian officials said Russian soldiers entered its exclusion zone and captured the area after heavy fighting.
Russia launched an attack on Ukraine early on Thursday morning, arguing that it was necessary to protect the two Donbass republics from Kiev’s forces. It said it was striking only military targets, without specifying their location, while Ukraine reported that Russian soldiers and armored vehicles had entered the country from several directions. Moscow has not commented on the reports of its troops crossing the border.
Russia’s move against Ukraine followed reports of constant shelling along the line separating the Ukrainian army from the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics (DPR and LPR), with both sides blaming each other for ceasefire violations. On Monday, Moscow recognized the independence of both republics, which broke away from Ukraine after the 2014 coup in Kiev.
The DPR and LPR have accused Ukraine of preparing for a full-blown assault against them. Kiev, meanwhile, has denied plans to retake the rebel areas by force and maintains that the Russian military operation is entirely unjustified.