Russian soldiers who seized the site of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster have reportedly landed themselves with acute radiation sickness.
Yaroslav Yemelianenko, CEO of tour operator Chernobyl Tour, has claimed that a group of Russian troops occupying the land of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant near Pripyat was rushed across the border to a special medical facility in Belarus after exposing themselves to dangerous levels of radiation.
“Another batch of Russian irradiated terrorists, who occupied the Chornobyl zone, was brought to the Belarusian Radiation Medicine Center in Homel today,” Yemelianenko wrote in a Facebook post on March 30.
“Have you dug enough trenches in the Red Forest, motherf*ckers? Now live with it for the rest of your short life,” he added.
There have also been reports of Russian troops driving through a highly irradiated area near Chernobyl called the "Red Forest'' without appropriate protective equipment. Speaking to Reuters, two Ukrainian Chernobyl employees said the unprotected soldiers stormed through the area in armored vehicles, describing their behavior as “suicidal.”
Remarkably, one of the Russian soldiers reportedly had not even heard of the infamous nuclear disaster that occurred at the site in 1986. This is likely a reflection of how the Chernobyl disaster – the result of poorly trained staff, a flawed reactor design, and made worse by a botched evacuation – was initially covered up by the Soviet Union and continues to be downplayed in Russia.
According to the employees who still work at the site, the convoy of Russian vehicles that burst through the Red Forest created a spike in radiation levels around the local area as a result of radioactive dust being kicked into the air. That claim couldn’t be verified, but there have been a handful of radiation spikes reported at the site since the conflict began in February.
Military action in the Chernobyl zone has been a constant worry since the beginning of the Russian invasion with many scientists explaining that it could pose a danger to both people and the environment.
Fortunately, conflict in the area appears to be dying down for now. As of March 30, Russian forces have begun to retreat from the area around the Chernobyl nuclear power site, one day after Russia said it would scale back attacks on two key Ukrainian cities, AFP reports.
"Chernobyl is [an] area where they are beginning to reposition some of their troops – leaving, walking away from the Chernobyl facility and moving into Belarus," a US defense official said Wednesday.
"We think that they are leaving, I can't tell you that they're all gone."