Ukraine crisis: Russia confirms it has control of Chernobyl
SOCHI, FEBRUARY 26: Russia’s Defence Ministry said in a statement on Friday that its paratroopers had taken control of the territory around the former Chernobyl nuclear plant in northern Ukraine and were working with Ukrainian guards to ensure the safety of its facilities, contradicting Ukrainian claims that Russian forces were holding the plant’s personnel hostage.
“The radiation level around the nuclear plant is within limits”, Major General Igor Konashenkov, the Ministry’s spokesman, said in a statement. “The plant’s staff continues to service its facilities and monitor radioactivity.”
Ukraine’s Government-run nuclear watchdog confirmed in a statement that Russian forces captured the area around the former plant, adding that all facilities “are under control and are being serviced by the plant’s staff.”
Earlier Ukrainian officials said that they “took its staff hostage.”
“This puts not only Ukrainian, but European security under threat”, said Alyona Shevtsova, a Ukrainian military official.
Chernobyl was the scene of the worst nuclear accident in history, when an explosion and fire in 1986 destroyed one of the plant’s reactors. The plant hasn’t produced electricity in more than 2 decades, and much of the equipment has been removed.
In Moscow, the Russian Defence Ministry said that “joint actions of Russian paratroopers and servicemen of the Ukrainian guards battalion will guarantee that nationalist formations and other terrorist organisations would not take advantage of the ongoing situation in the country to organise a nuclear provocation”.
In the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, Mikhailo Podolyak, a spokesman for the Ukrainian presidential office, contradicted that claim. He said the Ukrainian Government had received information that Russian saboteurs “planned to conduct a terrorist act at the Chernobyl plant to cause a powerful environmental catastrophe”.
“It is clear that Russia not only wants to depose the Government and replaced it with some puppet executors”, said Podolyak. “It wants to cause maximum destruction in Ukraine, even of environmental nature.” The two countries also made opposing statements about the ongoing military action. (NYTNS)