Battle of Chernobyl

battle in the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine

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Battle of Chernobyl
Part of 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine
Battle of Chernobyl (2022).png
Map of the Russian-occupied territory in Northern Ukraine following the Second Battle of Chernobyl
Date24 February 2022
Location51°16′N 30°13′E / 51.267°N 30.217°E / 51.267; 30.217Coordinates: 51°16′N 30°13′E / 51.267°N 30.217°E / 51.267; 30.217
Result

Russian victory

Belligerents
Russia Russia
Supported by:
Belarus Belarus[1]
Ukraine Ukraine
Units involved
Russian Armed Forces Ukrainian Armed Forces
Strength
Unknown Unknown
Casualties and losses
Unknown Unknown

The Battle of Chernobyl was a military confrontation in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone between the Russian Armed Forces and the Ukrainian Armed Forces, starting on 24 February 2022, during the first day of the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine.[2] Russian forces invading from the country of Belarus seized the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant area by the end of that day.[3][1][4]

Background

A security checkpoint in the Chernobyl zone, seen in 2010

During the Chernobyl disaster in 1986, large quantities of radioactive material were released from the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant into the surrounding environment.[5] The area in a 30 kilometres (19 mi) radius surrounding the exploded reactor was evacuated and sealed off by Soviet authorities.[6]: 27 [7] Following the dissolution of the Soviet Union, this area became part of newly independent Ukraine[8]: p.4–5 : p.49f.3  and was managed by the State Emergency Service of Ukraine.[9]

Battle

In the afternoon of 24 February 2022, the first day of the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Ukrainian government announced that Russian forces had launched an attack to capture the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone.[10] By the end of the day, the Ukrainian government further announced that Russian forces had captured Chernobyl and Pripyat.[11] Following the Russian capture of the exclusion zone, the American government announced "credible reports that Russian soldiers are currently holding the staff of the Chernobyl facilities hostage."[12]

It was reported that artillery shelling hit radioactive waste storage locations and an increase in radioactivity was observed.[13] However, the International Atomic Energy Agency has stated "there had been no casualties nor destruction at the industrial site."[14]

Reactions

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called the Russian capture of the zone a "declaration of war against the whole of Europe".[15]

Mykhailo Podoliak, advisor to head of the President's Office of Ukraine, was quoted as saying that it was a "totally pointless attack",[4] and "the condition of the former Chernobyl nuclear power plant, confinement, and nuclear waste storage facilities is unknown".[16] However, the International Atomic Energy Agency stated that there were "no casualties nor destruction at the industrial site" and that it was "of vital importance that the safe and secure operations of the nuclear facilities in that zone should not be affected or disrupted in any way."[14][17]

Analysis

Approach from Belarus via Chernobyl to Kyiv

In the greater picture of the Kyiv Offensive, the capture of Chernobyl can be considered a waypoint for Russian troops advancing towards Kyiv. Ben Hodges, former commanding general of the United States Army Europe, stated that the exclusion zone was "important because of where it sits... If Russian forces were attacking Kyiv from the north, Chernobyl is right there on the way." Former American Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Russia, Ukraine, Eurasia Evelyn Farkas said that the Russian forces "want to surround the capital" and that they "certainly don’t want loose nuclear material floating around" in case of a Ukrainian insurgency.[18][19]

The Exclusion Zone is important for containing fallout from the Chernobyl nuclear disaster of 1986; as such, Ukrainian interior affairs advisor Anton Herashchenko said that "if the occupiers' artillery strikes hit the nuclear waste storage facility, radioactive dust may cover the territories of Ukraine, Belarus and the EU countries".[15] According to the BBC, monitoring stations in the area reported a 20-fold increase in radiation levels, up to 65 µSv/h. Claire Corkhill of Sheffield University stated that the increase was localised and was due in part to "increased movement of people and vehicles in and around the Chernobyl zone [that] will have kicked up radioactive dust that's on the ground."[20]

References

  1. ^ a b Coakley, Amanda. "Lukashenko Is Letting Putin Use Belarus to Attack Ukraine". Foreign Policy. Archived from the original on 24 February 2022. Retrieved 25 February 2022.
  2. ^ Reuters (24 February 2022). "Chernobyl power plant captured by Russian forces -Ukrainian official". Reuters. Archived from the original on 24 February 2022. Retrieved 24 February 2022.
  3. ^ "Chernobyl nuclear plant targeted as Russia invades Ukraine". Al Jazeera. Archived from the original on 24 February 2022. Retrieved 24 February 2022.
  4. ^ a b "Russian forces seize Chernobyl nuclear power plant". BBC News. 25 February 2022. Archived from the original on 25 February 2022. Retrieved 25 February 2022.
  5. ^ "Chernobyl Nuclear Accident". www.iaea.org. 14 May 2014. Archived from the original on 11 June 2008. Retrieved 25 February 2022.
  6. ^ Marples, David R. (1988). The Social Impact of the Chernobyl Disaster. New York: St. Martin's Press. ISBN 978-0-312-02432-1.
  7. ^ Ritzer, George; Atalay, Zeynep (1 March 2010). Readings in Globalization: Key Concepts and Major Debates. John Wiley & Sons. p. 272. ISBN 978-1-4051-3273-2.
  8. ^ Petryna, Adriana (2002). Life Exposed: Biological Citizens after Chernobyl. New Jersey: Princeton University Press. ISBN 978-0-691-09019-1.
  9. ^ Economic Commission for Europe (17 December 1999). Environmental Performance Reviews: Ukraine - First Review. United Nations. p. 50. ISBN 978-92-1-004057-0.
  10. ^ "Russian troops breach area near Chernobyl, adviser to Ukrainian minister says". Reuters. 24 February 2022. Archived from the original on 24 February 2022. Retrieved 24 February 2022.
  11. ^ "Chernobyl power plant captured by Russian forces -Ukrainian official". Reuters. 24 February 2022. Archived from the original on 24 February 2022. Retrieved 24 February 2022.
  12. ^ Restuccia, Andrew (24 February 2022). "White House Calls for Release of Any Hostages at Chernobyl Site". Wall Street Journal. Archived from the original on 24 February 2022. Retrieved 24 February 2022.
  13. ^ "Chernobyl no-go zone targeted as Russia invades Ukraine". Associated Press. 24 February 2022. Archived from the original on 24 February 2022. Retrieved 25 February 2022.
  14. ^ a b "IAEA Director General Statement on the Situation in Ukraine". International Atomic Energy Agency. 24 February 2022. Archived from the original on 24 February 2022. Retrieved 24 February 2022.
  15. ^ a b Shabad, Rebecca (24 February 2022). "'This is a declaration of war against the whole of Europe': Zelenskyy warns Russia is trying to seize Chernobyl". NBC News. Archived from the original on 24 February 2022. Retrieved 24 February 2022.
  16. ^ Griffiths, Brent D. (24 February 2022). "Russian troops seize Chernobyl's remnants after a battle, risking Western efforts to contain one of the world's most radioactive sites". Business Insider. Archived from the original on 25 February 2022. Retrieved 25 February 2022.
  17. ^ Murphy, Francois (24 February 2022). "IAEA says Ukraine nuclear power plants running safely, no 'destruction' at Chernobyl". Reuters. Archived from the original on 24 February 2022. Retrieved 24 February 2022.
  18. ^ Seitz-Wald, Alex (24 February 2022). "Why would Russia want to take Chernobyl?". NBC News. Archived from the original on 24 February 2022. Retrieved 24 February 2022.
  19. ^ Mohammed, Arshad; Landay, Jonathan. "Explainer: Why Russia and Ukraine are fighting for Chernobyl disaster site". Reuters. Archived from the original on 25 February 2022. Retrieved 25 February 2022.
  20. ^ Gill, Victoria (25 February 2022). "Chernobyl: Radiation spike at nuclear plant seized by Russian forces". BBC. Archived from the original on 25 February 2022. Retrieved 25 February 2022.
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