As the staging ground for an assault on the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv, the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, one of the most toxic places on earth, was probably not the best choice. But that did not seem to bother the Russian generals who took over the site in the early stages of the war.
“We told them not to do it, that it was dangerous, but they ignored us,” Valeriy Simyonov, the chief safety engineer for the Chernobyl nuclear site, said in an interview.
Apparently undeterred by safety concerns, the Russian forces tramped about the grounds with bulldozers and tanks, digging trenches and bunkers — and exposing themselves to potentially harmful doses of radiation lingering beneath the surface.
“They went everywhere, and they also took some radioactive dust on them [when they left],” Ugolkov adds.
It’s an example of what Ukrainian officials say was the lax and careless behavior of Russian soldiers while they were in control of the site of the 1986 nuclear disaster. The area around Chernobyl, namely the Red Forest, is still the most nuclear contaminated area on the planet, with most of the radioactive particles present on the soil.
Ukrainian officials have released drone footage of what they say were trenches dug by Russian soldiers in that area, which is particularly radioactive. At a safe location, on the edges of that area, CNN saw a Russian military ration box that exhibited radiation levels 50 times above naturally occurring values.CNN