Russians have left Chernobyl nuclear power plant: Ukraine officials

It said a small number of Russian troops remained at Chernobyl, but did not specify how many. Russian forces have also retreated from the nearby town of Slavutych, where workers at Chernobyl live, it said.
Chernobyl nuclear power plant
Chernobyl nuclear power plant

Most of the Russian forces that occupied the Chernobyl nuclear power station after invading Ukraine have left the defunct plant and only a “small number” remain, Ukraine’s state nuclear company Energoatom has said, as heavy fighting raged on the outskirts of Kyiv and other fronts.

Though Russian troops seized control of Chernobyl soon after the February 24 invasion, the plant’s Ukrainian staff continued to oversee the safe storage of spent nuclear fuel and supervise the concrete-encased remains of the reactor that exploded in 1986, causing the world’s worst nuclear accident.

Energoatom said those workers had flagged earlier on Thursday that Russian forces were planning to leave the territory.

“The information is confirmed that the occupiers, who seized the Chernobyl nuclear power plant and other facilities in the exclusion zone, have set off in two columns towards the Ukrainian border with the Republic of Belarus,” it said in a statement.

Energoatom said Russian soldiers got “significant doses” of radiation from digging trenches at the highly contaminated site. The troops “panicked at the first sign of illness,” which “showed up very quickly,” and began to prepare to leave, it added.

It said a small number of Russian troops remained at Chernobyl, but did not specify how many. Russian forces have also retreated from the nearby town of Slavutych, where workers at Chernobyl live, it said.

In a separate online post, Energoatom said the Russian side had formally agreed to hand back to Ukraine the responsibility for protecting Chernobyl. It shared the scan of a document setting out such an arrangement and signed by individuals it identified as a senior staff member at Chernobyl, the Russian military official tasked with guarding Chernobyl, and others.

The authenticity of the document could not immediately be verified. There was no immediate comment from the Russian authorities, who have denied that its forces have put nuclear facilities in Ukraine at risk.

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