War in Ukraine: On the Brink of New Chornobyl
based on articles by Vox, BBC, The New York Times, The Guardian, Vice, Politico, and Radio Liberty
When Russian troops captured the Chornobyl nuclear power plant on the first day of their invasion of Ukraine, the world grew wary. About a week later, the Russian army opened fire on Europe’s largest nuclear power plant near Zaporizhzhia, and that’s when the real alarm was raised, making the world ready to act.
This digest contains evidence as to why there’s a danger of environmental disaster if Russia isn’t stopped.
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1. The 1986 Chornobyl disaster and what Kremlin had to do with it
The night of Apr. 26, 1986, is forever ingrained into world history as the date of the worst nuclear disaster both in cost and casualties. The fourth reactor of the Chornobyl nuclear power plant exploded, releasing 50 million curies of radiation that spread over Europe right up to the Nordic countries.
State-controlled media acknowledged the accident only in the evening of Apr. 28 — almost three days after the explosion, when western states started questioning the Soviets about the unprecedented radiation levels.
⚡️ The Chornobyl disaster is the worst man-made environmental disaster in history, both in cost and casualties.
It is often linked to the subsequent fall of the Soviet Union five years later.
2. Chornobyl can return to the world’s agenda
On Feb. 24, the first day of their invasion, Russian troops captured the Chornobyl nuclear power plant and held staff hostage. On Mar. 4, occupants shelled Europe’s largest nuclear power plant in Zaporizhzhia. Firefighters couldn’t extinguish the fire that broke out for hours as Russian troops continued the attack.
“Ukraine has 15 nuclear units. If there is an explosion, it is the end of everything. The end of Europe.”
Volodymyr Zelensky, President of Ukraine
The radiation levels are currently within the norm, but the facility is occupied by Russian soldiers.
3. The global environmental threat
As Russian occupants bomb critical infrastructure, there is a tremendous environmental threat to Ukraine and the entire world.
Russian ballistic missile hit an oil depot near Kyiv, followed by a powerful explosion. The same happened near Sumy. The invaders tried but failed to blow up a gas pipeline in Kharkiv and leave the city without heat. In addition, the Russian army launched a rocket at the Kyiv dam — if it had hit the target, the city and its suburbs would have been flooded.
Still, this is not a limit to the damage invaders can potentially do. Putin has already threatened to use nuclear weapons, which would lead to a nuclear war. The Ukrainian Armed Forces are fighting courageously to stop Russian aggression and prevent a possible environmental disaster.