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Ukraine Says Russian Forces Near Chernobyl Could Pose New Radiation Threat

A senior Ukrainian official accused Russia on Sunday of “irresponsible” acts around the occupied Chernobyl power station that could send radiation across much of Europe, and urged the United Nations to dispatch a mission to assess the risks.

Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said Russian forces were “militarising” the exclusion zone around the station, site of the world’s worst civil nuclear accident in 1986.

Russian forces, she said, were transporting large amounts of old and badly maintained weapons, creating a risk of damaging the containment vessel constructed around the station’s wrecked fourth reactor.

And Russian forces were preventing firefighters from bringing under control large numbers of fires in the zone.

“In the context of nuclear safety, the irresponsible and unprofessional actions of Russian servicemen present a very serious threat not only to Ukraine but to hundreds of millions of Europeans,” Vereshchuk said on her Telegram account.

“We therefore demand that the U.N. Security Council adopt immediate measures to demilitarise the exclusion zone around the Chernobyl station as well as dispatching a special mission to eliminate the risks of any repeat of the Chernobyl accident resulting from the actions of Russian occupying forces,” she said.

Vereshchuk said damage to the containment vessel, built with European financing, would “inevitably lead to the release in the atmosphere of a considerable amount of radioactive dust and contamination not only in Ukraine but also in other European countries”.

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