The European Union has warned that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is fraught with a new nuclear catastrophe in Europe 36 years after the Chernobyl accident.
The invading Russian forces controlled the Chernobyl zone – the site of the world’s worst nuclear disaster in 1986 – for more than a month before withdrawing at the end of March.
“Today, Russia’s illegal and unjustified aggression against Ukraine once again threatens the nuclear security of our continent,” the European Commission said in a statement.
He added that Moscow forces “targeted and occupied Ukrainian nuclear facilities, recklessly damaging the facilities.”
“Illegal occupation and disruption of normal functioning, such as obstructing the rotation of personnel, undermine the safe and reliable operation of Ukrainian nuclear power plants and significantly increase the risk of an accident,” the statement said.
Russian troops also seized the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant, the largest in Europe, after an attack on the facility caused widespread concern.
“On the anniversary of the Chernobyl accident on 26 April 1986, we reiterate our deep concern about the risks to nuclear safety caused by recent Russian actions at the Chernobyl site,” the EU statement said. “We call on Moscow to return control of the occupied Zaporozhye nuclear power plant to the Ukrainian authorities and to refrain from any further actions against nuclear installations.”
The head of the UN Office for Nuclear Oversight called Russia’s occupation of Chernobyl “very, very dangerous” during a site visit today with a team of experts who are conducting radiation testing and delivering key kits.
Ukraine claims that during the occupation of the exclusion zone, Russian soldiers dug trenches in highly radioactive places.