Radiation Levels Around Chernobyl Rise After Russia Took Over: Ukrainian Officials

Radiation Levels Around Chernobyl Rise After Russia Took Over: Ukrainian Officials
Smoke and flame rise near a military building after an apparent Russian strike in Kyiv, Ukraine, on Feb. 24, 2022. (Efrem Lukatsky/AP Photo)
Jack Phillips

Ukraine officials are reporting higher levels of radiation around the Chernobyl nuclear plant after Russian troops took control of the facility Thursday.

"Experts of the Ecocenter connect this with disturbance of the top layer of soil from movement of a large number of radio heavy military machinery through the Exclusion zone and increase of air pollution," Ukrainian officials in a statement on Friday, according to a translation.
The Parliament of Ukraine also posted a map that showed radiation monitoring systems had shown elevated levels and where they are the worst.

"Data from the automated radiation monitoring system of the exclusion zone, which is available online, indicate that the control levels of gamma radiation dose rate (red dots) have been exceeded at a significant number of observation points," the Parliament of Ukraine said in a statement.

Earlier this week, Ukrainian officials confirmed that Russian forces had gained control of the Chernobyl area, which is located fewer than 100 miles north of Kyiv, the capital.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki stated that the Biden administration was "outraged" by the "credible reports" that Russian troops were holding staff at the Chernobyl site hostage. Russia has not issued a public statement about the matter.

During the Soviet Union, the Chernobyl plant suffered a meltdown, triggering widespread releases of radiation across Europe.

On Friday, fighting reached Kyiv, said Ukrainian officials. Russian missiles hit the capital, families cowered in shelters and authorities told people to prepare petrol bombs to defend Ukraine's capital on Friday, as the mayor said "saboteurs" had entered the city and were fighting in the outskirts.

"Shots and explosions are ringing out in some neighborhoods. Saboteurs have already entered Kyiv," said the mayor of the city of 3 million, former world heavyweight boxing champion Vitali Klitschko. "The enemy wants to put the capital on its knees and destroy us."

After weeks of warnings from Western leaders, Russian President Vladimir Putin unleashed a three-pronged invasion of Ukraine from the north, east, and south before dawn on Thursday, in the biggest attack on a European state since World War Two.

U.S. Defense Department officials said they believe Russia's initial goal is to "decapitate" Zelensky's government before installing their own. In remarks on Friday morning posted online, Zelensky said that he believes that he is the "number one target."

Earlier, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told reporters that Moscow will only hold talks if Ukraine’s army surrenders.

“We’re ready for negotiations at any time, as soon as the Ukrainian armed forces respond to our president’s call, stop resistance, and lay down their weapons,” Lavrov said from Moscow.

Reuters contributed to this report.
Jack Phillips is a breaking news reporter with 15 years experience who started as a local New York City reporter. Having joined The Epoch Times' news team in 2009, Jack was born and raised near Modesto in California's Central Valley. Follow him on X: https://twitter.com/jackphillips5
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