The Ukraine government says Russian forces have seized control of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant.
Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal was said to have announced this while speaking to journalists on Thursday.
This development comes hours after Russian President Vladimir Putin launched a special millitary intervention in Ukraine’s Donbas region.
The Chernobyl plant was the site of the world’s “worst” nuclear accident when a nuclear reactor exploded in April 1986, spewing radioactive waste across Europe. The plant lies 130 kilometers (80 miles) north of the capital of Kyiv.
The exploded reactor was covered by a protective shelter to prevent radiation leak and the entire plant has been disabled.
“Unfortunately, I have to say that, as of now, the Chernobyl zone, the so-called exclusion zone, and all Chernobyl facilities have been taken under control by Russian armed groups,” Shmyhal told a media briefing after an extraordinary cabinet meeting in Kyiv.
“According to the leadership of the Chernobyl exclusion zone, there are no victims at the moment.”
He added that further information will be released after clarification.
Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky, also confirmed the incident.
“It is impossible to say the Chernobyl nuclear power plant is safe after a totally pointless attack by the Russians,” Podolyak said.
“This is one of the most serious threats in Europe today.”
Earlier, as fighting raged near the Chernobyl site, Zelenskyy had said Russian forces were attempting to take over the nuclear plant.
“Russian occupation forces are trying to seize the #Chornobyl_NPP. Our defenders are giving their lives so that the tragedy of 1986 will not be repeated. Reported this to @SwedishPM. This is a declaration of war against the whole of Europe,” Zelenskyy had tweeted.
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