Pentagon Source Claims Russians Are Leaving Chernobyl – Within days of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Russian soldiers took control of the disused Chernobyl nuclear power plant, the site of the 1986 nuclear meltdown. After a reactor in the plant exploded, over 100,000 people were displaced in the region and harmful radiation levels were tested within a radius of several hundred miles. The impact could even be measured throughout Western Europe.
When Russian troops took control of the plant, and fears Russian missiles or munitions could be dropped on the site, it sparked concerns that a fresh nuclear disaster was on the way.
“Chernobyl is (an) area where they are beginning to reposition some of their troops— leaving, walking away from the Chernobyl facility and moving into Belarus,” the U.S. official said on Wednesday.
It comes just a day after the Russian Deputy Defense Minister said that Moscow had decided to “cut back military activity in the direction of Kyiv and Chernihiv.” The minister claimed that the decision was made to “increase mutual trust” and create conditions that would help advance negotiations, but it’s more likely that Russia is struggling to keep up with the military offensive at its current pace and knows the Ukrainian military in Kiev may not be possible to beat without escalating to the use of biological or chemical weapons.
Not Everyone Has Left…Yet
The unnamed senior Pentagon official said that some of the Russian troops at Chernobyl had been repositioned into Belarus, only 10 miles away from the site, adding that U.S. intelligence believes that Russian forces are gradually leaving.
“We think that they are leaving, I can’t tell you that they’re all gone,” the source said.
The news comes as the Kremlin ordered roughly 20% of its troops to leave their stations and head to the north of Ukraine, where fresh supplies of weapons, ammunition, and food are being distributed. Russian forces were forced to head north after ships full of weapons and supplies were destroyed by Ukrainian forces last week.
Declassified intelligence from the White House also reportedly suggests that Russian President Vladimir Putin feels “misled” by his own military and is losing faith in his top officials, potentially prompting his decision to reposition troops and reprioritize the “liberation” of Donbas.
Jack Buckby is a British author, counter-extremism researcher, and journalist based in New York. Reporting on the U.K., Europe, and the U.S., he works to analyze and understand left-wing and right-wing radicalization, and reports on Western governments’ approaches to the pressing issues of today. His books and research papers explore these themes and propose pragmatic solutions to our increasingly polarized society.