Most of the Russian soldiers who occupied the Chernobyl nuclear plant in northern Ukraine after the invasion of the country have already left those facilities, according to a statement from the Ukrainian nuclear agency, Energoatom, published on Thursday. This entity has also published the photograph of a document that collects, according to what it affirms, the transfer of the plant back to the local authorities.
The soldiers set out in two columns on the road to the north, where the border with Belarus is located, just a dozen kilometers from the plant. According to the testimony of the employees of the plant, who have remained inside for weeks, this Thursday there are hardly any occupying troops left. The facilities were occupied by Russia a few days after the start of the war, on February 24.
Chernobyl, scene in 1986 of the greatest nuclear catastrophe in history, continues to represent a nightmare for the Ukrainians. It is still today one of the most polluted areas in the world and, in the midst of the current war, it is a strategic and sensitive place for both parties. In fact, it was one of the first targets that the Kremlin troops dropped on after invading the former Soviet republic. The subsequent takeover by Russia of the largest nuclear plant in Europe, located in Zaporizhia, in southern Ukraine, raised alarms in the face of a possible catastrophe.
Meanwhile, a new column of Kremlin soldiers is forming this Thursday in the surroundings of the town of Slavutich, where the Chernobyl workers reside, with the intention of also heading towards Belarus, always according to the text of the Ukrainian nuclear agency, made public through the social network Telegram. As proof of the recovery of control of the facilities, Energoatom has published a photo of a document entitled Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant Transfer of Protection Act, dated March 31 and signed by a Russian general.
While Ukraine announced the withdrawal of soldiers from Chernobyl, bombings have continued in other parts of the country. Russian troops continue attacks in the disputed area of Donbas, in the east, with heavy weapons, and the offensive continues around kyiv and in other important cities such as Chernihiv (north) and Kharkov (east). The different regional administrations assure that practically the entire country is suffering from attacks, despite Moscow’s announcement that it would reduce its offensive on the capital and other cities, the Urkrinform agency reported.
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In the case of Lugansk, where pro-Russian separatists control part of the border area with Russia, the authorities say that the entire territory has been shelled overnight with heavy weapons – seven people have lost their lives. In this area, the city of Lisichansk has been the center of the Russian offensive for the past two days, which has also caused dozens of injuries. In this city, an oil refinery was on fire on Thursday, the Ukrainian agency said.
In the Donetsk region, where the secessionists also control a self-proclaimed republic, the Russians bombarded Mariinka with phosphorus shells, Ukraine reported, and several rocket launchers were fired at other towns such as Avdiivka, Heorhiivka, Novokalinove and Ocheretine.
Several Russian missiles also hit an oil depot in the central Dnipropetrovsk region and an asphalt manufacturing plant in nearby Novomoskovsk. In this case, there were no fatalities.
The shelling of the residential areas of Kharkov, in the east, also continues, and on Wednesday night the attacks damaged a gas pipeline and caused a fire that was extinguished. In this city, the Russians bombed the Derhachi district, killing at least one person. The regional authorities indicated that it is impossible to evacuate the population due to the constant bombing, while dozens of volunteers try to deliver humanitarian aid.
Faced with these moves by Moscow, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has once again expressed distrust of the Kremlin’s announcements: “We have heard recent statements that Russia will scale back its military operations in kyiv and northern Ukraine. But Russia has continually lied about its intentions. So we can only judge Russia based on her actions, not her words. According to our intelligence, the Russian units are not withdrawing, but relocating”, he pointed out at a press conference in Brussels. “Russia is trying to regroup, resupply and strengthen its offensive in the Donbas region. At the same time, Russia is keeping up the pressure on kyiv and other cities. We can expect additional offensive actions that will bring even more suffering. Russia must end this senseless war, withdraw all its troops and join the talks in good faith,” Stoltenberg added.
The city most affected by the bombing of Moscow, the besieged Mariupol, is waiting for a convoy made up of fifty buses to access in the next few hours to remove trapped citizens. The operation will be carried out if the ceasefire announcement made by the Kremlin for this Thursday is fulfilled. A total of 5,000 people have died and some 170,000 remain trapped, according to data from the mayor’s office of this city, located on the shores of the Azov Sea and besieged for weeks by Russian troops.
Ukrainian soldiers continue to wage defensive fighting in Chernihiv, where the Russians shelled the city’s suburbs on Wednesday. And in the kyiv region, the detonations and explosions have been felt much less in recent hours around the northwest front of the capital, but towns such as Irpin or Bucha remain in dispute, despite the fact that the Government announced on Monday that it had achieved dislodge the Russian military from the first.