Russian troops have withdrawn from Chernobyl, says Ukrainian nuclear operator

Russian military vehicles are pictured at Chernobyl on February 24, the day they arrived at the plant.
Lviv, Ukraine CNN  — 

Russian forces have withdrawn from Chernobyl, the site of the world’s worst nuclear disaster, the state enterprise overseeing Ukraine’s nuclear power plants said on Thursday.

“It was confirmed that the occupiers, who seized the Chernobyl nuclear power plant and other facilities in the Exclusion Zone, marched in two columns towards the Ukrainian border with the Republic of Belarus,” said Energoatom in a statement published on Telegram.

On April 26, 1986, an explosion ripped through the No.4 reactor at Chernobyl, killing 30 people immediately. Countless others died from radiation symptoms in the years that followed.

In late February, during the first week of the war, the plant and its surrounding territory fell into the hands of Russian troops.

On Thursday Russian troops announced their intention to leave and hand over control to Ukrainian personnel, said Energoatom.

It also posted the copy of a formal letter purportedly signed by a representative of Russia’s National Guard, a representative of Russia’s state nuclear energy company Rosatom and a Chernobyl plant shift manager, with the heading, “The act of acceptance and transfer of protection of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant.”

The letter states that “the administration of the protected facility makes no claims in relation to the troops of the National Guard of the Russian Federation.”

The Telegram statement from Energoatom said that a small number of “rashists” – a Ukrainian slur for Russians that combines the words “fascist” and “racist” – remained at the station.

“It should be noted that the information about fortifications and trenches that the rashists built right in the Red Forest, the