(Washington) A senior Pentagon official said, on Wednesday, that Russian forces began withdrawing from the Chernobyl nuclear site, which they seized on the first day of the invasion of Ukraine on February 24.
Posted at 5:06 p.m
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.
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 plant’s three other reactors were gradually closed after the disaster, most recently 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 the Russian forces whose advance was blocked by the Ukrainian resistance in Kyiv “began to reposition” in the direction of Belarus.
We think they are repositioning in Belarus. “We don’t have an exact number, but this is our preliminary estimate,” Kirby added during a press briefing, noting that none of the units appeared to be leaving the vicinity of Ukraine.
He pointed out that “this is not a detail.” If the Russians are serious about de-escalation, as that is what they claim, they will send them home. But that’s not what they do.”
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.
Kirby noted that the bombing did not stop, especially in the east of the country and around Kyiv.