Frontline Reaches Chernobyl Nuclear Plant as Ukraine Issues Dire Warning About What's There
The Russian invasion of Ukraine threatens to breach containment of Europe’s greatest nuclear disaster, a mistake that could have serious implications for people all over the continent.
The war’s frontline reached the Chernobyl power plant shortly after troops entered Ukraine early Thursday morning.
Concerns are now swirling that fighting around the complex could disrupt nuclear waste from the former Soviet Union’s 1986 disaster there.
NBC News’ Richard Engel said on Twitter that a Ukrainian official warned the situation could disturb the waste, releasing unknown radiological hazards into the environment and atmosphere. Once explosive and smoky fires are introduced to the mix, it’s easy to see how this could blossom into a nightmare for all of Europe.
clarifying: advisor says heaving fighting MAY disturb nuclear waste.
— Richard Engel (@RichardEngel) February 24, 2022
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy confirmed fighting around the infamous nuclear site.
“Russian occupation forces are trying to seize the [Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant],” Zelensky wrote on Twitter. “Our defenders are giving their lives so that the tragedy of 1986 will not be repeated.”
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
Zelenskyy adviser Myhailo Podolyak told The Associated Press later Thursday that Russian forces had seized control of the area around the plant after a fierce battle, the outlet reported.
“A Ukrainian official said Russian shelling hit a radioactive waste repository and an increase in radiation levels was reported,” the AP said. “The official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive matter.”
“This is one of the most serious threats to Europe today,” Podolyak said.
The Chernobyl disaster revealed to the world the dangers of human folly and radiation as a cascade of failures led to an explosion of the plant’s reactor core. The disaster killed nearly 100 people, with thousands more suffering from poison dust and other nuclear hazards. Now, the power plant’s name is a byword for nuclear disaster.
Zelenskyy claimed the Russian offensive is “a declaration of war against the whole of Europe.”
The invasion has earned Russian President Vladimir Putin worldwide criticism, with many nations sanctioning the country’s leaders or issuing other nonmilitary punishments.
Although the North Atlantic Treaty Organization has not responded to the plight of the non-member state of Ukraine, the alliance has undertaken security consultations to address member concerns.
The ongoing fighting has so far been contained largely within Ukraine’s borders.
With firefights breaking out so close to Chernobyl, the situation threatens to quickly become a matter of grave international concern.
The rapid pace of Russia’s campaign and the fog of war make it impossible to tell who will hold Chernobyl or whether the facility’s integrity will be monitored.
For nations looking to the American superpower in the opening hours of Russia’s invasion, an uncomfortable truth was waiting for them.
Instead of delivering a roaring response, President Joe Biden issued a lukewarm two-paragraph response before apparently retiring for the night.
Unfortunately for Ukraine and much of Europe, it looks like the international chaos will only grow in the absence of a strong leader in America.
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