Chernobyl was under the control of the Russian forces until it was retaken by Ukrainian forces after the invaders retreated.
At that time, the Ukrainian defence ministry wrote: “Yes, today on April 03, the units of the Armed Forces of Ukraine took control of the district of Pripyat and the area of the State Border of Ukraine with the Republic of Belarus.
“We continue to perform combat duties! Together to victory! Glory to the DSHW! Glory to Ukraine!”
In the photos shared to Facebook by tour group ChernobylX, it is claimed that the Russian soldiers destroyed a bridge across the river that leads into Pripyat – the city near to Chernobyl – and the nuclear plant itself.
They also claim that an office within the exclusion zone was ransacked, with all the computers and furniture stolen.
A third photograph shows a ‘completely destroyed’ souvenir stand near to the Dytyatky checkpoint situated in a village along the way to the power plant.
Since the area was retaken by Ukrainian forces, the minister for the exclusion zone area has voiced concerns that the Russian troops might have disturbed contaminated soil and therefore created a radiation risk.
Yevhen Kramarenko said that an estimated 1,500 troops had been stationed in the exclusion zone, and he feared that highly radioactive soil from the area could have been taken on vehicle wheels to other areas of the country.
He said that tanks passing through were likely to have ‘picked up contaminated soil and mud on the way’.
He added that there could be a ‘serious radioactive problem’ and said authorities must now check for radioactive waste and radiation levels.
Chernobyl employees have also said that Russian forces drove armoured vehicles through one of the most radioactive areas in the exclusion zone, known as the ‘Red Forest’, which could have kicked up more radioactive dust.
An unnamed employee described the move as ‘suicidal’ because the dust in that area is so dangerous.
30 people died and around 200,000 were displaced when reactor four at the nuclear plant exploded and caught fire in 1986.
An area spanning 19 miles around the plant is still considered too radioactive for human habitation and now forms the Chernobyl exclusion zone.
The site is still popular with tourists, though.
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