Kiev, April 9: A Ukrainian Minister has claimed that the Russian troops who were posted at the Exclusion Zone of the now-defunct Chernobyl nuclear power plant were exposed to high levels of radiation due to which they have at the most a year to live.
Chernobyl, the site of the world's worst nuclear accident, fell to the Russian troops on the first day of Moscow's invasion on February 24. On April 5, National Guard of Ukraine seized it and took control of the facility after the troops fully evacuated the premises on March 31.
Speaking to the local media on Friday, Ukraine's Energy Minister Herman Galushchenko said that not only were the troops exposed to the radiation, but their military equipment has also been contaminated.
"The Russian soldiers' ignorance went as far off the scale as the dosimeters we used to check the background radiation in the places where the invaders were deployed," Ukrayinska Pravda quoted Galushchenko as saying.
"They dug into contaminated soil with their bare hands, put radioactive sand into bags for fortifications, and inhaled the dust. After a month of that kind of exposure, they have at most a year to live. Or rather, they won't be living, but slowly dying of their illnesses," he added.
He further said that the Russian forces also looted the plant's administrative offices, "taking everything from crockery to spare parts and instruments".
"It's not just all of the occupiers' troops and their 'trophies' that are contaminated. So is all the military equipment that has passed through Chernobyl – about 10,000 items. Every Russian soldier will bring a piece of Chernobyl home, whether he's alive or dead," Galushchenko said.
He also noted that metal is particularly susceptible to radiation and becomes radioactive, adding that there is a high risk of radioactive contamination for anyone who comes into contact with property or machinery from the Chernobyl nuclear power plant.
The plant, some 110 km north of the Ukrainian capital of Kiev, witnessed the worst nuclear accident in human history on April 26, 1986.