New Delhi: Ukraine has sent its troops to the Chernobyl exclusion zone to guard against any incursion amid global attention surrounding a possible invasion by Russia, The New York Times reported. The report said the site where the world’s worst nuclear disaster occurred is a potential entry point for Russia.
The isolated area in the site, located in the northern part of Ukraine, falls on the shortest route from Russia to its capital, Kiev. In 1986, a nuclear reactor at Chernobyl had to be shut down after a leak.
Decades after the nuclear disaster, this place is lying vacant and the towns here are completely ruined. According to the New York Times report, Ukraine’s military is carrying weapons as well as equipment to detect radiation in the area.
“It doesn’t matter if it’s contaminated or no one lives here,” Lieutenant Colonel Yuri Shakhraichuk of the Ukrainian Border Guard Service told The New York Times. “This is our territory, our country and we must protect it,” he said.
Soldiers have to wear a device around their neck, which will check radiation levels. If soldiers move around an area with high radiation, they will be removed from duty. Colonel Shakhraichuk told The New York Times that high radiation has not been detected in any of the soldiers so far.
Colonel Shakhraichuk further stated that the forces stationed in Chernobyl would not be able to repel the attack, having been sent there to look for warning signs.
Russia’s move to send troops to Chernobyl in the wake of an aggressive strategy ignited the emotional reactions of those who fought to control a nuclear plant fire in 1986.
These include Ukrainian firefighter Ivan Kovalchuk. He said, “How can this happen? We liquidated the accident together. I feel sorry for the people of Ukraine for them doing this to us now.
The city of Chernobyl is still partly occupied by workers who remain on rotation to maintain the safety net. One such activist told the New York Times, “We don’t know what will kill us first, the virus, the radiation or the war.”
Meanwhile, Russia has said it has no intention of attacking Ukraine and has accused Western countries of escalating tensions in the region. However, the Kremlin has reiterated its demand that NATO allies should withdraw their forces and weapons from sites near the former Soviet republic.
first published:Jan. 25, 2022, 12:50 p.m.