A nightmare scenario is unfolding in Ukraine after Russian troops retreated from the Chernobyl zone.
According to a report from the Associated press, Russian forces left hundreds of mines and fires around the nuclear facility and stole the main server for monitoring radiation levels, leaving local authorities in the dark about the scale of damage they caused.
In an interview with the AP published Wednesday, Maksym Shevchuck, the deputy head of the state agency managing the exclusion zone, said hundreds or even thousands of Russian soldiers are likely walking around with no idea how badly they’ve doomed themselves by touching dangerous items in the plant.
“Most of the soldiers were around 20 years old. All these actions proves that their management, and in Russia in general, human life equals like zero,” Shevchuck said.
The radioactive soil in the exclusion zone was reportedly stirred up by forest fires the Russian troops deliberately set, as well as the mines they planted, some of which have exploded. Worse yet, the main server that would allow nuclear officials to check radiation levels has been severed since March 2, and the International Atomic Energy Agency said as recently as last Saturday that it was not receiving remote data.
“Ukrainian authorities can’t monitor radiation levels across the zone because Russian soldiers stole the main server for the system, severing the connection on March 2. The International Atomic Energy Agency said Saturday it still wasn’t receiving remote data from its monitoring systems,” the AP reported. “The Russians even took Chernobyl staffers’ personal radiation monitors.”
Rebecca Harms, who visited the exclusion zone many times as a member of the European Parliament, told the AP that the Russian forces’ takeover of Chernobyl was a “nightmare,” as it showed that “every nuclear plant can be used like a pre-installed nuclear bomb.”