what happened to the russian soldiers deployed in the Chernobyl nuclear power plant area?

The Russian army took control of Chernobyl on the first day of the war, on February 24, before breaking up camp more than a month later, on March 31. A few days after signing thedeed of transfer (in Russian) a video taken by a drone appeared on social networks to the Ukrainian authorities. In the middle of the “Red Forest” are trenches and barracks of the Russian occupiers. An area that is still off-limits 36 years after the disaster, covering ten kilometers around reactor 4. This place remains one of the most polluted in the world, raising many questions about the health of Russian soldiers deployed there.

“It is very possible that they have sustained significant radiation contamination”, estimates Energoatom, Ukraine’s Atomic Energy Agency. According to Ukrainian sources, the presence of troops has also displaced radioactive dust, raising local radiation levels.

dRussian soldiers drove their armored vehicles unprotected, according to two site employees interviewed by Reuters (in English)† An act qualified as “suicidal” by one of these employees. pTo make matters worse, the Ukrainian Ministry of the Environment claimed (in Ukrainian)on March 26, that Russian soldiers had lit about 30 wood fires in the exclusion zone during their occupation.

On Friday, CNN journalists were also able to visit the site for the first time. Journalist Frederik Pleitgen explains that a total of 170 employees were held captive in the building’s bomb shelter during the occupation, before being transferred to Russia on the last day. “We are seeing an increase in radiation levels in the neighborhoods occupied by the Russians”adds the reporter at the end of his visit. “The Ukrainians claim it’s because of the exits outside the zones and the radioactive dust sticking to the boots.” His colleague adds that he discovered a Russian food ration on the edge of the “Red Forest”, where radiation levels are already very high.

The Russian General Staff has not provided information on the health of the soldiers deployed in the area. Seven buses carrying Russian soldiers have been identified at the Belarusian Radiotherapy Center in Gomel a posted message (in Russian) on March 30 by the Hajun monitoring group, which reports on military movements in Belarus.

The Ukrainian Strategic Command also named (in Ukrainian) possible irradiations of Russian soldiers, without giving further details. “Russia has shown irresponsibility at every level, from refusing to allow factory workers to fully perform their duties, to digging trenches in the contaminated area”denounced Dmytro Kuleba, foreign minister.

Elena Parenyuk, nuclear specialist at the National Academy of Sciences, explains: to the Liga media (in Ukrainian) that the trees covered in radioactive dust had been cut and buried after the 1986 disaster, before being covered with a layer of sand and new trees replanted.

If the earth is excavated, the scientist still believes “the level of exposure would remain below the level that can lead to acute radiation syndrome.” A one-month stay would still have serious and irreversible health consequences. lInternational Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) believes, For his part (in English)that it is too early to know whether Russian troops have been exposed to high levels of radiation.

The experts are ready to go on site “as soon as possible” perform an assessment. During the Russian occupation, it was difficult to obtain measurements in the exclusion zone, where monitoring is usually done using an automated 39-point system.

From March 9 to 13, even the site’s power supply was cut. which resulted in a loss “dpower supply for the sensors used to monitor the installations of this installation”, stated on franceinfo Karine Herviou, deputy director general of the Institute for Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety (IRSN). The situation is now under control, but subsequent readings will need to be closely monitored.