Russian forces have begun to withdraw from the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, which they have controlled since the early days of the invasion of Ukraine, and from the Gostomel airport, near Kiev, a source from the US Department of Defense revealed today.
According to a senior Pentagon official, the Russian army has begun withdrawing from Gostomel airport, northwest of Kiev, and is repositioning itself from Chernobyl, moving towards Belarus.
“We understand that they are leaving, but I cannot say if they are all leaving,” added the same source, quoted by the France Presse (AFP) agency and who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Since March 9, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has stopped receiving data directly from the nuclear power plant where the biggest radioactive accident in history occurred in 1986.
Also on Sunday, the United Nations agency again expressed concern about the lack of employee turnover at this plant since March 20.
The UN nuclear agency said on Tuesday that its director-general is in Ukraine to discuss with government officials the provision of “urgent technical assistance” to ensure the safety of the country’s nuclear facilities.
Since the beginning of the Russian military offensive, more than a month ago, Rafael Grossi has been warning of the dangers of this war, the first in a country with a large nuclear capacity – 15 reactors in four active plants and several nuclear waste deposits.
Russian forces still control Europe’s largest nuclear power plant at Zaporijia.
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby had revealed that “less than 20%” of Russian forces whose advance in the region around Kiev was impeded by the Ukrainian army “began to reposition towards Belarus”.
“We estimate that they are repositioning themselves in Belarus. We don’t have an exact number, but this is our preliminary estimate”, added John Kirby in a press conference.
The US official warned that Russia’s words about a de-escalation around Kiev are still not being fulfilled.
The Pentagon spokesman explained that for the United States these moves do not mean a withdrawal, but an attempt by Russia to resupply and reposition its troops.
The communications director of the US Department of Defense recalled that Russia has set a goal of prioritizing the Donbass region, in eastern Ukraine.
Russia also announced, after talks on Tuesday with Ukrainian negotiators in Istanbul, that it would reduce its activities around Kiev and Chernihiv in a gesture to relieve pressure and help the talks move towards an agreement.
Despite the intention of de-escalation expressed by Moscow, the governor of Chernihiv, Viacheslav Chaus, said this Wednesday that Russian attacks on civilian infrastructure continued overnight.
Russia launched a military offensive in Ukraine on February 24 that killed at least 1,189 civilians, including 108 children, and wounded 1,901, including 142 children, according to the latest UN data, which warns of the likelihood of the real number. of civilian casualties be much higher.
The war caused the flight of more than 10 million people, including more than 4 million refugees in neighboring countries and almost 6.5 million internally displaced people.
The UN estimates that around 13 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance in Ukraine.
The Russian invasion was condemned by the international community in general, which responded by sending weapons to Ukraine and reinforcing economic and political sanctions on Moscow.
Source: with agencies