Erdogan says Russian invasion of Ukraine ‘not acceptable’
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After intense gunfire between the forces of the two countries, Russian soldiers entering from Belarus have captured the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Experts have warned that the invasion from the north of Ukraine may have led to damage at the facility, although these reports are yet to be independently verified.
Chernobyl is the site of the world’s worst nuclear disaster, with radiation in some parts of the region still remaining “dangerously high”.
NBC’s Richard Engel tweeted this afternoon: “Advisor to Ukrainian interior ministry says Russian forces entered Chernobyl and that fighting there destroyed a nuclear waste storage facility.”
However, this was initially reported but was later clarified due to a mistranslation.
He added shortly after: “Clarifying: advisor says heaving fighting MAY disturb nuclear waste.”
After a two-hour-long conflict, Russian forces were reported to be in control of the facility and had taken prisoners.
An adviser for the Interior Minister of Ukraine, Anton Gerashchenko said today, according to LBC: “The invaders from the territory of Belarus have moved into the Chernobyl AES Zone.
“The National Guardsmen, who guard the collectors of unsafe nuclear radioactive waste, are fighting hard.
“If the invaders’ artillery hits and ruins/damages the collectors of nuclear waste, radioactive nuclear dust can be spread over the territory of Ukraine, Belarus and the country of the EU!”
The President of Ukraine took to Twitter to say Russian forces are trying to seize the zone.
“Russian occupation forces are trying to seize the #Chornobyl_NPP,” tweeted Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
“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.”
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This came hours after Russian President Vladimir Putin officially declared a military offensive on Ukraine.
In a broadcast this morning, Mr Putin announced he had “decided to conduct a special military operation”.
Mykhailo Podolyak, an advisor to the Ukrainian Presidential office, said: “It is impossible to say the Chernobyl nuclear power plant is safe after a totally pointless attack by the Russians.
This is one of the most serious threats in Europe today.”
Chernobyl would be the shortest, most direct route to the capital Kyiv for Russian forces.
To this day, a 2,600 km2 exclusion zone exists to protect people from radiation exposure.
The town where the zone exists, Prypyat, was evacuated. It was once home to around 50,000 residents.
While the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone is still a restricted area, the radiation is in the ground and is sinking deeper year by year.
Exposure to radiation comes with serious risks like mutations in DNA and an increased risk of thyroid cancer.
In a chilling speech, Mr Putin announced that Russia will “strive for de-militarisation and de-Nazification of Ukraine and will bring to justice those who committed multiple bloody crimes against civilians, including Russian citizens”.
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