The Russian Army, which launched a military operation against Ukraine, occupied the former Chernobyl nuclear power plant after heavy fighting against the Ukrainian Armed Forces.
“After a bloody battle we lost control of Chernobyl,” said Mikhail Podolyak, advisor to the Ukrainian Presidency, quoted by the Ukrainian Independent Information Agency.
According to the official, the authorities have no information on “the state of the facilities of the former Chernobyl nuclear power plant, the sarcophagus and the nuclear waste storage.”
“After this absolutely irrational attack by the Russians here, we cannot be sure that the Chernobyl nuclear power plant is safe,” he said, stating that this “is one of the biggest threats that Europe is facing now.”
Podolyak said that “knowing the habits of the Russians, they are surely already preparing some provocation at the plant. Or they will take advantage of the damage caused to the facilities during the attack to accuse Ukraine of this.”
Earlier Thursday, Ukrainian President Volodymir Zelensky warned that the Russian incursion into the exclusion zone of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant is “a declaration of war against the whole of Europe.”
Anton Gerashchenko, an advisor to the Ministry of the Interior, warned that if the deposits with radioactive remains stored at Chernobyl are damaged, “nuclear dust can spread throughout the territory of Ukraine, Belarus and the countries of the European Union.”
The Chernobyl exclusion zone, which is separated from Belarusian territory by the Pripyat River, which gives its name to the town where the Soviet plant workers lived, has been patrolled for weeks by the Ukrainian National Guard.
In anticipation of a possible attack, last Friday Ukrainian authorities suspended tourist trips to the Chernobyl area, a popular destination for foreign tourists in recent years.
A French-made sarcophagus now covers the damaged fourth nuclear reactor that spread up to 200 tons of material with a radioactivity of 50 million curies, equivalent to 500 atomic bombs like the one dropped on Hiroshima.