Mar 31, 2022 - World

Russian troops leaving Chernobyl, Ukrainian nuclear operator says

Servicemen take part in a joint tactical and special exercises near Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant on February 4, 2022

Ukrainian servicemen take part in a joint tactical and special exercises near Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant on Feb. 4. Photo: Sergei Supinsky/AFP via Getty Images

Russian troops occupying Ukraine's Chernobyl nuclear power plant have begun to leave and move toward Belarus, Ukraine's nuclear power operator, Energoatom, said in a Telegram post Thursday.

Driving the news: Russian troops seized control of the Chernobyl power plant, located about 80 miles north of Kyiv, late last month, in the early stages of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

  • On Wednesday, Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said that a small fraction of Russian troops arrayed against Kyiv and the cities of Chernihiv and Sumy were beginning to reposition themselves, with some moving toward Belarus.

The big picture: Energoatom said Russian troops are leaving the Chernobyl plant and other facilities in the Exclusion Zone — the Chernobyl plant's surrounding lands that have high levels of radiation — and only a "small number" of Russians remain at the station.

  • Russian troops "marched in two columns towards the Ukrainian border with the Republic of Belarus," the post read.
  • Russian troops surrounding the city of Slavutych, where many of the power plant's workers live, per AP, are also preparing to leave and head toward Belarus, the nuclear operator said.
  • The Russian troops have also signed a document officially confirming the plant's handover back to Ukrainian control, which also notes that the plant's administration has no complaints about the Russian troops, Energoatom claimed in another Telegram post Thursday.
  • "It turns out that the occupiers 'guarded' the station for more than five weeks, and even so well that there are no complaints," the message concluded.
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