Russian forces begin withdrawal from Chernobyl site

The Russian military had captured the nuclear site on February 24, the day the invasion of Ukraine began.

A senior Pentagon official said on Wednesday that Russian forces had begun withdrawing from the Chernobyl nuclear site they seized on the first day of their invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24.

The Russian military has begun withdrawing from Gostomel Airport, northwest of Kyiv, and “Chernobyl is another area where they have started to reposition themselves, leaving Chernobyl to Belarus,” said this senior official, who requested anonymity.

“We think they’re leaving, I can’t tell you if they’re all gone,” he added.

No data from the nuclear site since early March

The IAEA has, since March 9, stopped receiving live data from Chernobyl. On Sunday, she was concerned about the lack of employee turnover at the plant since March 20.

Reactor 4 at the plant exploded in 1986, causing the worst civilian nuclear disaster in history. It is covered with a double stone sarcophagus, one of which was built by the Soviets and now damaged, and the other more modern that opened in 2019. The other three reactors were gradually closed after the disaster, the last one in 2000.

Antonov military airfield in Gostomel was attacked by Russian forces on February 25, the day after the start of the invasion of Ukraine.

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby also noted that “less than 20%” of Russian forces whose advance on Kyiv was blocked by the Ukrainian resistance “began to reposition” in the direction of Belarus.

No calm, according to the Pentagon

“We estimate that they are repositioning in Belarus. We don’t have a specific number, but this is our preliminary estimate,” John Kirby added during a press conference, stressing that none of the units appeared to be leaving the areas around Ukraine. He pointed out that “this is not a detail.” “If the Russians are serious about de-escalation, because that’s what they claim, they’ll bring them home. But that’s not what they’re doing.”

Moscow, which says it wants to focus on the Donbass region, where the breakaway regions of Donetsk and Luhansk are located, has vowed to “drastically reduce its military activity in the direction of Kyiv and Chernigov”, in the north of the country.

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However, John Kirby noted that the bombing did not stop, particularly in the east of the country and around Kyiv.

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