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Chernobyl's radiation levels have exceeded control levels after Russian troops seized the area one day into their invasion, Ukraine has said.
Reports emerged yesterday, February 24, of fighting between Ukrainian and Russian troops near the remains of the infamous nuclear plant, located around 60 miles north of Kyiv and ground zero of the worst accident in the history of nuclear power.
These claims were then confirmed by President Volodymyr Zelensky, who tweeted, '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.'
Russian troops from #Belarus entered the Chernobyl zone. Heavy fights between them and Ukrainian soldiers guarding the storage of radioactive waste. We don't know about the fallout yet. But this is an absolute madness pic.twitter.com/yHll6ApQgk— Hanna Liubakova (@HannaLiubakova) February 24, 2022
According to data from the automated radiation monitoring system of the exclusion zone, as per The Independent, the control levels of gamma radiation have exceeded at several observation points, but it's 'currently impossible to establish the reasons for the change in the radiation background in the exclusion zone because of the occupation and military fight in this territory', Ukraine's parliament said in a statement.
However, while the country's nuclear agency said it was recording higher levels of radiation, it also claimed the increase is 'insignificant' and the result of dust raised by Russia moving its military equipment in the area.
Moscow alleges the radiation levels in the area are normal, and said it would be sending in paratroopers to help secure it, Sky News reports.
After initial reports of Russia seizing Chernobyl emerged, the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs warned of the possibility of 'another ecological disaster... in 1986, the world saw the biggest technological disaster in Chernobyl. If Russia continues the war, Chernobyl can happen again in 2022', it tweeted. However, the move can most likely be linked to the plant offering the shortest route to Kyiv from Belarus.
Concerns have also been raised over Russian troops taking hostages at Chernobyl, with Alyona Shevtsova, an adviser to the commander of Ukraine's Ground Forces, claiming staff had been 'taken hostage' at the plant.
"We're outraged by credible credible reports that Russian soldiers are currently holding the staff of the Chernobyl facility hostage," @PressSec Jen Psaki says. Could upend routine efforts to maintain and protect the nuclear waste facilities. US requests their release, she says. pic.twitter.com/bk7ooI4AfG— Jennifer Jacobs (@JenniferJJacobs) February 24, 2022
'We’re outraged by credible reports that Russian soldiers are currently holding the staff of the Chernobyl facilities hostage,' White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters during yesterday's briefing.
'This unlawful and dangerous hostage taking, which could end the routine civil service efforts required to maintain and protect the nuclear waste facilities, is obviously incredibly alarming and greatly concerning. We condemn it, and we request their release.'
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