Russia invades Ukraine: Russian soldiers 'exposed to Chernobyl radiation', Kyiv says

Russia invades Ukraine: Russian soldiers 'exposed to Chernobyl radiation', Kyiv says
The New Arab is providing live updates of what's been happening on the ground and additional analysis on the conflict's significance. 
5 min read
01 April, 2022

Russian soldiers were likely exposed to radiation while they were occupying the area around the Chernobyl nuclear power station over the past four weeks, Ukrainian officials said on Friday.

Vehicles used by Russian forces would have raised radioactive dust clouds and soldiers also dug trenches in the most contaminated part of the site, Ukraine's nuclear agency Energoatom said.

The power station, the site of the world's worst nuclear disaster in 1986, was taken back under the control of Ukrainian forces on Thursday as Russia withdrew from areas north of the capital Kyiv.

"All the equipment at the Chernobyl power station is functioning. The control and radiation monitoring systems function as usual," power station chief Valery Seida said in a statement.

But he said the soldiers may have been exposed.

"The thick dust that their vehicles raised into the air and the radioactive particles it contains can easily penetrate into the Russians' organism through their lungs," Seida said.

Since they also dug trenches in the area "it is entirely possible that they have been exposed to considerable levels of radiation," Energoatom said.

Russia's capture of Chernobyl in the early days of its invasion of Ukraine, which began on February 24, raised worldwide fears over nuclear leaks.

Speaking to reporters in Warsaw, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said Russia had shown "irresponsibility" in its actions around Chernobyl.

"Russia showed irresponsibility on all fronts, from its refusal to allow staff at the power station to fully carry out their duties to digging trenches in the contaminated area," he said.

"The Russian government... will have to answer to the mothers, sisters and wives of these soldiers and explain to them why it forced them to be exposed to these risks," the minister said.

Chernobyl's reactor number 4 at Chernobyl exploded in 1986 and is now covered by a double layer of sarcophagus -- the first built by the Soviet Union and another that was only completed in 2019.

The power station's three other reactors were successively closed down, with the latest shutting off in 2000.

The New Arab is providing live updates of what's been happening on the ground and additional analysis on the conflict's significance. 

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11:57 PM
The New Arab Staff

Today's live blog on the latest updates of Russias invasion of Ukraine concludes here.

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10:26 PM
The New Arab Staff

The United States is providing Ukraine with supplies and equipment in case Russia deploys chemical or biological weapons in its invasion of Ukraine, the White House said on Friday.

The supplies are being provided to Ukraine following warnings from the United States and other countries that Russia could deploy such weapons and might be planning a "false flag" operation to lay the groundwork for such an attack, according to the White House's press secretary Jen Psaki.

The Kremlin has accused Ukraine of preparing to use chemical weapons, without providing evidence. US officials say that claim is a lie, and may indicate that Russia is preparing to do so itself.

For more on this story, click here.

9:16 PM
The New Arab Staff

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has called for Russia and Ukraine to act with common sense in a call with Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to his office.

The pair also discussed peace talks between Russian and Ukrainian officials in Istanbul this week, which Erdogan said were "positive and constructive".

"Erdogan, who stated that it was important for the sides to act with common sense and maintain dialogue, noted he wanted to cap off the peace efforts by bringing together Russian President Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy," the Turkish presidency said in a statement.

8:32 PM
The New Arab Staff

Moscow on Friday accused Kyiv of carrying out its first air strike on Russian soil.

Moscow warned that the helicopter attack on a fuel depot in the town of Belgorod would hamper negotiations as peace talks between Ukrainian and Russian officials resumed via video.

Kyiv would neither confirm nor deny it was behind the attack.

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7:18 AM
The New Arab Staff

A total of 6,266 people were evacuated from Ukrainian cities through humanitarian corridors on Friday, according to a senior official.

Kyrylo Tymoshenko - deputy head of the president's office, said in an online post that 3,071 people had left the besieged city of Mariupol.

A total of 3,810 people were also evacuated from Ukrainian cities through humanitarian corridors on Thursday, Interfax Ukraine cited a senior official as saying.

6:02 PM
The New Arab Staff

Russia's bombardment of Ukraine southern port city of Mariupol has resulted in around $10 billion in damages to infrastructure, according to local authorities.

"Every crime, every murder and act of destruction committed by the aggressor must be recorded and passed on to the International Court (of Justice)," the city council quoted Mayor Vadym Boichenko as saying, stating a special committee of councillors would be responsible for recording such acts.

An aide to the mayor of Mariupol said on Friday the besieged southern Ukrainian city remained closed for anyone trying to enter and was "very dangerous" for anyone trying to leave.

The Mariupol mayor's office estimates 5,000 civilians have been killed in the siege of the city. 

5:06 PM
The New Arab Staff

Ukraine on Friday exchanged 86 servicemen with Russia, senior Kyiv officials said.

"The exchange has just taken place, 86 of Ukraine's servicemen, including 15 women, are already safe," Kyrylo Tymoshenko, the Ukrainian president's deputy chief of staff said in a video message on Telegram.

Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said the servicemen are "already being taken home."

"I would like to address all our (people) who are still being held prisoner: We will fight for each of you! And will bring you home. Stay strong."

2:30 PM
The New Arab Staff

Russian forces are using a church site 22 miles northwest of Kyiv as a staging ground for their assault on the Ukrainian capital, a senior U.S. administration official said on Friday.

"Military personnel are situated both on the grounds of the church and the surrounding residential area," the official said on condition of anonymity and without citing evidence. (Reporting by Humeyra Pamuk; Writing by Doina Chiacu; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)

1:43 PM
The New Arab Staff

Twenty-eight people have been confirmed killed as a result of Tuesday's rocket strike on the regional administration building in Ukraine's southern city of Mykolaiv, Governor Vitaliy Kim said in an online post on Friday.

Rescue workers had to pull victims from the rubble after the attack blasted a hole through the side of the building in central Mykolaiv.

11:01 AM
The New Arab Staff

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky warned Russia is consolidating and preparing "powerful strikes" in the country's east and south, including besieged Mariupol, where a new attempt will be made Friday to evacuate civilians from the devastated city.