what happened to the Russian soldiers deployed in the area of ​​the Chernobyl nuclear power plant?

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The Russian army took control of Chernobyl on the first day of the war, on February 24, before breaking camp, more than a month later, on March 31. A few days after signing the deed of transfer (in Russian) to the Ukrainian authorities, a video shot by a drone appeared on social networks. There are trenches and barracks of the Russian occupants in the middle of the “Red Forest”. An area still off-limits, 36 years after the disaster, which covers ten kilometers around reactor 4. This place remains one of the most contaminated in the world, which raises many questions about the state of health Russian soldiers who were deployed there.

“It is quite possible that they suffered considerable radiation contamination”, estimates Energoatom, the Ukrainian atomic energy agency. According to Ukrainian sources, the presence of troops also moved radioactive dust, causing local radiation levels to rise.

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

For the first time, Friday, CNN journalists were also able to visit the site. Journalist Frederik Pleitgen explains that a total of 170 employees were held prisoner in the building’s air-raid shelter during the occupation, before being taken to Russia on the last day. “We have seen an increase in radiation levels in the neighborhoods occupied by the Russians”adds the reporter at the end of his visit. “The Ukrainians claim that it is due to the exits carried out outside the zones and the radioactive dust stuck to the boots.” His colleague adds that he discovered a Russian food ration on the edge of the “Red Forest”, where the radiation levels are already very high.

The Russian general staff has not provided any information on the state of health of its soldiers engaged in the area. Seven buses of Russian servicemen have been identified at the Belarusian Radiation Therapy Center in Gomel, a posted message claims (in Russian) on March 30 by the monitoring group Hajun, which reports on military movements in Belarus.

The Ukrainian strategic command also mentioned (in Ukrainian) possible irradiations of Russian soldiers, without giving further details. “Russia has shown irresponsibility on every level, from refusing to allow plant personnel to fully perform their duties, to digging trenches in the contaminated area”denounced Dmytro Kuleba, Minister of Foreign Affairs.

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 felled and buried after the 1986 disaster, before being covered with a layer of sand and new trees replanted.

If the earth has been dug, the scientist still believes that “the level of exposure would remain below that which can lead to acute radiation syndrome.” A stay of one month would still have serious and irreversible consequences on health. Lhe International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) considers, for its part, (in English)that it is too early to know whether the Russian forces were exposed to high levels of radiation.

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

From March 9 to 13, the site’s power supply was even cut off. which resulted in a loss “dpower supply to the sensors used to monitor the installations of this plant”, explained on franceinfo Karine Herviou, deputy director general of the Institute for radiation protection and nuclear safety (IRSN). The situation is now under control, but the next readings will have to be closely monitored.

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