Why Chernobyl Plant Is Key To Russia’s Ukraine Plan
The Chernobyl nuclear power plant has been captured by Russian forces. Russian troops took over the power plant while Ukrainian forces battled them on three sides on Thursday after Moscow mounted an assault by land, sea and air.
- Chernobyl sits on the shortest route from Belarus to Kyiv, Ukraine capital, and so runs along a logical line of attack for the Russian forces invading Ukraine.
- In seizing Chernobyl, Western military analysts said Russia was simply using the fastest invasion route from Belarus, an ally of Moscow and a staging ground for Russian troops, to Kyiv.
- “It was the quickest way from A to B,” said James Acton of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace think tank.
- Jack Keane, a former chief of the US Army staff, said Chernobyl “doesn’t have any military significance” but sits on the shortest route from Belarus to Kyiv, the target of a Russian “decapitation” strategy to oust the Ukrainian government.
- Taking Chernobyl was part of the plan, and a senior Ukrainian official said it was captured on Thursday by Russian forces, though a senior US defense official said the United States could not confirm this.
- The fourth reactor at Chernobyl, 67 miles (108 km) north of the Ukrainian capital Kyiv, exploded in April 1986 during a botched safety test, sending clouds of radiation billowing across much of Europe and reaching the eastern United States.
- The radioactive strontium, caesium and plutonium mainly affected Ukraine and neighboring Belarus, as well as parts of Russia and Europe. Estimates for the numbers of direct and indirect deaths from the disaster vary from the low thousands to as many as 93,000 extra cancer deaths worldwide.
- Soviet authorities initially sought to cover up the disaster and did not immediately admit to the explosion, tarnishing the image of reformist Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and his “glasnost” policies for greater openness in Soviet society.
- A make-shift cover, or “sarcophagus,” was built within six months of the disaster to cover the stricken reactor and protect the environment from radiation. In November 2016, a so-called “New Safe Confinement” was moved over the old sarcophagus.
- Ukraine’s four operational nuclear power plants are running safely and there has been no “destruction” at the remaining waste and other facilities at Chernobyl, the UN nuclear watchdog said on Thursday, citing Ukraine’s nuclear regulator.