As Russian troops pull out of the defunct Chernobyl nuclear facility, reports say several hundred have been transported to a facility in Belarus for treatment of “acute radiation sickness.”
The Pentagon says Russian forces began hastily withdrawing from Chernobyl this week.
The invading troops are also reported to have dug trenches in the contaminated Red Forest, so named after thousands of trees turned red after the site’s 1986 nuclear accident. Even highly trained workers in protective gear are not allowed to enter the forest for fear of radiation sickness.
Energoatom, the Ukrainian government agency that oversees the disaster site, reports that the location where Russian soldiers dug trenches is “the most polluted in the entire zone.” Journalists in Belarus witnessed several buses transporting the bodies of troops from the medical facility to Russia overnight.
The site of the world’s worst nuclear disaster fell to Russia on the first day of the attack. Military forces without protective gear immediately began moving heavy equipment through the area. This, along with forest fires, raised concerns about contamination and possible danger to workers.
Those on duty when the Russians arrived stayed at work over 600 hours before they were allowed a shift change.
The site’s Ukrainian managers say a formal letter has been signed transferring protection of the site back to Energoatom, along with confirmation of the disturbance of the Red Forest zone. The statement notes “fortifications and trenches that the rashists built” in the most contaminated area of the entire Exclusion Zone.
“Rashist” is a Ukrainian slur for the Russian troops that combines “fascist” and “racist.” Yaroslav Yemelianenko, a Ukrainian official with the Exclusion Zone Management Team, bluntly told the “irradiated terrorists” to “live the rest of your short life with this.”