Alina Shevtsova, an adviser to the commander of the Ukrainian Ground Forces, said on Facebook that Russian forces had taken control of the power plant and that the employees were “being held hostage”.
According to Mykhailo Podolak, a Ukrainian presidential adviser, he lost control of the Chernobyl region after a “fierce battle.”
Podolak said the state of the Chernobyl power plant’s former nuclear waste storage facilities was unknown.
“After a completely absurd Russian attack in this direction, it is impossible to say that Chernobyl is safe,” Podolyak added. “This is one of the gravest threats facing Europe today.”
On Thursday, the White House said it was outraged by “credible reports” that Russian soldiers were holding workers at the Chernobyl facilities hostage.
“This unlawful and dangerous hostage-taking, which could upend routine civil service efforts required to maintain and protect nuclear waste facilities, is incredibly alarming and deeply concerning,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters at a Thursday evening briefing.
“We condemn them and demand their release,” he added.
Warnings about Russian moves
Earlier Thursday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky warned that Russian forces were trying to take control of the nuclear plant.
“The Russian occupying forces are trying to seize the Chernobyl (nuclear power plant) plant. Our defenders are sacrificing their lives so that the tragedy of 1986 will not be repeated. This is a declaration of war against the whole of Europe,” Zelensky wrote on Twitter.
The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry echoed the president’s warning, raising the specter of another nuclear disaster in the city.
“In 1986, the world witnessed the largest technological disaster in Chernobyl,” the ministry wrote on Twitter. “If Russia continues the war, Chernobyl can happen again in 2022.”
In the months following the accident, an ark was built to cover reactor 4 and contain the radioactive material. However, it has since deteriorated, resulting in a radiation leak.
Russia launched a large-scale invasion of Ukraine before dawn Thursday with a series of missile attacks on positions near the capital Kiev, as well as long-range artillery shelling on the city of Kharkiv near the Russian border. The offensive spread rapidly across central and eastern Ukraine as Russian forces attacked the country from three sides.
“Lifelong food lover. Avid beeraholic. Zombie fanatic. Passionate travel practitioner.”