Chernobyl power plant captured by Russian forces – Ukrainian official

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An aerial view from an airplane shows a new safe containment structure (NSC) on top of the old sarcophagus covering the damaged fourth reactor of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant during a visit to the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, Ukraine April 3, 2021. REUTERS/Gleb Garanich/ File Photo

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KYIV, Feb 24 (Reuters) – The Chernobyl nuclear power plant has been captured by Russian forces, an adviser to Ukraine’s presidential office, Mykhailo Podolyak, said on Thursday.

“It is impossible to say that the Chernobyl nuclear power plant is safe after a totally unnecessary attack by the Russians,” he said.

“This is one of the most serious threats in Europe today,” Podolyak said.

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Russian troops took control of the power plant as Ukrainian forces fought them from three sides on Thursday after Moscow launched an assault by land, sea and air in the biggest attack on a European state since World War II . Read more

Some Russian servicemen massed in the Chernobyl “exclusion zone” before crossing into Ukraine early Thursday, a Russian security source said.

Russia wants to control the Chernobyl nuclear reactor to signal NATO not to intervene militarily, the same source said.

The Chernobyl disaster in then-Soviet Ukraine sent clouds of nuclear material across much of Europe in 1986 after a botched safety test at the atomic power plant’s fourth reactor.

Decades later, it has become a tourist attraction. About a week before the Russian invasion, the Chernobyl zone was closed to tourists.

“Our defenders are giving their lives so that the tragedy of 1986 does not happen again,” tweeted Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy shortly before the seizure of the plant.

“It is a declaration of war against all of Europe.”

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Reporting by Maria Tsvetkova and Natalia Zinets; Editing by Hugh Lawson and Jonathan Oatis

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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