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Ukrainian troops have been pictured with a flag at the recaptured Chernobyl nuclear power plant after Russian troops continued to retreat from northern parts of the country.
A grinning Ukrainian troop was shown holding a large flag with the destroyed nuclear plant in the background in a startling show of strength and tenacity by the nation.
The Ukrainian General Staff of the Armed Forces tweeted that their soldiers have today taken control the city of Pripyat, which was abandoned after the 1986 nuclear disaster at Chernobyl.
A grinning Ukrainian troop was shown holding a large flag with the destroyed nuclear plant in the background in a startling show of strength and tenacity by the nation
The Ukrainian account tweeted: ‘Today, April 3, units of the Assault Troops of the Armed Forces of Ukraine took control of the area of the city of Pripyat and the area of the State Border of Ukraine with the Republic of Belarus’.
Russian forces had occupied the area since the early days of the invasion but have allegedly retreated due to soldiers coming down with radiation sickness.
It comes as part of a wider withdrawal of Russian troops from northern areas of Ukraine due to their inability to capture the capital city of Kyiv.
The Russian capture of the plant sparked fears that Putin may weaponise it and unleash the deadly radiation contained in the area across Europe.
Russian troops who were stationed at Chernobyl were treated for radiation sickness in Belarus, an employee at the Ukrainian state agency overseeing the exclusion zone has claimed.
The Ukrainian Atomic Energy Ministry declared on Friday that there are no longer any ‘outsiders’ on the land surrounding the power station, according to workers from the plant.
Despite the Russian occupation, Ukrainian staff continued to oversee the safe storage of spent nuclear fuel and supervise the concrete-encased remains of the reactor that exploded in 1986, causing the world’s worst nuclear accident.
The confirmation of the control of the border with Belarus indicates a different stage of the war focussed on the eastern regions of the war-torn nation.
The withdrawal has been coupled with attacks on Odessa in the south today as Russia weighs up an amphibious assault on the vital Black Sea port city.
Ukraine has taken back the ‘whole Kyiv region’ from Russian troops, the country’s deputy defence minister said as the fightback against the invaders continues.
The Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant is now encased in concrete to prevent radiation from the destroyed reactor from leaking
In a statement posted on social media, Hanna Maliar said: ‘Irpin, Bucha, Gostomel and the whole Kyiv region were liberated from the invader.’
Irpin and Bucha, commuters towns outside Kyiv, were retaken by the Ukrainian army this week. Both towns have suffered vast destruction and high civilian death tolls.
Bucha’s mayor said 280 people had been buried in a mass grave in the town and that corpses littered the streets.
At least 200 people have been killed in Irpin, a suburb of Kyiv, since Russia invaded Ukraine in late February, while Gostomel, near Kyiv, was the setting of heavy fighting to take control of the airfield there.
Ukraine has said Russia is withdrawing from northern areas and appears to be focusing on the east and south of the country.
Downing Street said that Boris Johnson had called to congratulate Ukrainian President Zelensky’s ‘brave armed forces’ for successfully pushing back Russia’s invading forces and agreed to continue increasing the economic pressure on Vladimir Putin.
It came as once-bustling highways on the outskirts of Kyiv have now become a graveyard for scores of Vladimir Putin’s tanks as the Ukrainians continue their successful counterattacks around the capital.
Columns of Russian armoured vehicles have been reduced to rubble as President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s troops continue to repel Russian forces, and in some instances recapture roads and settlements near Kyiv.
Chernobyl nuclear power plant a few weeks after the disaster in May 1986
As Ukrainian units advance, they’re met with burned-out tanks and heavily-armoured personnel transport vehicles that line the roads once populated by commuters that would have been heading in or out of the capital.
But far more grisly finds are being discovered in the villages and towns in Kyiv’s urban sprawl. After recapturing Bucha from the Russian forces, Ukrainian troops found the bodies of 20 men in civilian clothes on a single street.
In what could be further evidence of Russian war crimes, eyewitnesses said one of the corpses had his hands tied, with the dead bodies strewn all over residential roads in the suburban town that was once home to 28,000 people.
President Zelensky warned Moscow’s retreating forces are leaving behind ‘catastrophic’ situations by mining the areas outside their homes, abandoning their ruined equipment and the ‘bodies of those killed’.