Russian forces in Ukraine have seized the Chernobyl nuclear power plant after a brief encounter with the Ukrainian forces, an adviser to the Ukrainian presidential office, Mykhailo Podolyak noted on Thursday. "It is impossible to say the Chernobyl nuclear power plant is safe after a totally pointless attack by the Russians," he said.
Ukrainian President called it a 'declaration of war against Europe.' "Our defenders are giving their lives so that the tragedy of 1986 will not be repeated," he said in a tweet. The Chernobyl power plant was the site of deadly destruction in April 1986, because of a botched safety test in the fourth reactor of the atomic plant. The accident sent clouds of nuclear material across much of Europe and prompted the evacuation of roughly 50,000 people.
Russia launched a full-scale invasion in Ukraine on Thursday bombarding the country by air, land, and sea Thursday. Multiple reports also noted that Russian forces were holding the Chernobyl staff hostage. "We're outraged by credible reports that Russian soldiers are currently holding the staff of the Chernobyl facilities hostage," White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters.
Why would Russia Seize Chernobyl?
The site happens to be located in one of the most direct routes to the Ukrainian capital city of Kyiv. Retired Lt. Gen Ben Hodges noted that the location of the nuclear power plant plays an important role. "If Russians were attacking Kyiv from the north, Chernobyl is right there on the way, almost in the way," he said, according to NBC.
On the other hand, according to Reuters, a Russian security source noted that Russia wanted to control Chernobyl nuclear reactor to hint NATO not to interfere in the invasion militarily.
Danger to Chernobyl
A Ukrainian official noted that during the fight, a Russian shelling reportedly hit radioactive waste storage in Chernobyl and an increase in radiation levels was reported, The Post noted.
White House Press Secretary further called for the release of the hostages at the Chernobyl plant. "This unlawful and dangerous hostage-taking which could upend the routine civil service efforts required to maintain and protect the nuclear waste facility is obviously incredibly alarming and incredibly concerning, and we request their release," she said.