The Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has warned that Russian troops are trying to capture the Chernobyl nuclear power plant.
Zelensky said Ukrainian forces are “giving their lives so that the tragedy of 1986 will not be repeated.”
The Ukrainian President added, “This is a declaration of war against the whole of Europe.”
This is key for Russia as it is the shortest route to the Ukrainian capital from Belarus which would allow thousands of troops to take over Kyiv.
Advisor to Minister of Internal Affairs of Ukraine Anton Gerashchenko said that Russian troops from the territory of Belarus entered the zone of the Chornobyl nuclear power plant (NPP).
“Important information about the Russian invasion! The troops of the invaders from the territory of Belarus entered the zone of the Chornobyl nuclear power plant.
“The National Guardsmen guarding the storage of unsafe radioactive waste are putting up stubborn resistance,” he wrote on his Telegram channel.
Russian occupation forces are trying to seize the #Chornobyl_NPP. Our defenders are giving their lives so that the tragedy of 1986 will not be repeated. Reported this to @SwedishPM. This is a declaration of war against the whole of Europe.
— Володимир Зеленський (@ZelenskyyUa) February 24, 2022
Gerashchenko stressed that “if a nuclear waste storage facility is destroyed as a result of enemy artillery strikes, then radioactive dust can cover the territories of Ukraine, Belarus and the EU countries!”
A nuclear expert in the Ukraine a grim warning that if a Russian missile accidentally hits one of 15 nuclear reactors there is a real risk of radioactive pollution in Europe.
A Kyiv safety expert told the i newspaper whilst the chance is unlikely if the Russian backed separatists use their lack of high precise weapons there could be a chance of the nuclear facilities accidentally being struck.
Dmytro Gumenyuk, head of safety analysis at the State Scientific and Technical Centre for Nuclear and Radiation Safety warned that should this happen the radiation would contaminate waterways, soil and air not only in Ukraine but also Russia and Europe.
Ukraine holds nuclear waste facilities at the exclusion zone in Chernobyl which was the worst nuclear disaster in history where in 1986 there was a catastrophic failure at the power plant.
Gumenyuk gave a grim warning, “Our NPP [nuclear power plant] wasn’t designed for military protection. Of course it wasn’t designed against tanks, bombs, missiles and so on.
“In case of a military attack it is not a long time for getting from Dontesk to Zaporizhzhia NPP, and of course taking into account the small distances from the Russian Federation, we could suppose that our power plants are not fully protected from military attack from our neighbour.”
According to CEOBS, “Decommissioning of the [Chernobyl] site and the packaging of waste is ongoing and will continue for decades. The site is under constant management and monitoring and the disruption caused by a conflict would impact the ongoing work to reduce the risks it poses. It seems likely that foreign companies would withdraw staff in the event of an invasion, impacting activities at the site.”