Russian troops occupying the former nuclear power plant at Chernobyl have left, the plant’s staff say.
According to Ukraine’s state nuclear company Energoatom, staff at the plant said there are currently no “outsiders” at the site.
Earlier, it said some Russian forces had set off towards the Belarusian border, leaving a small group behind. The announcement appears to confirm reports by senior US defence officials on Wednesday of a withdrawal. Russian troops seized Chernobyl at the beginning of their invasion of Ukraine on 24 February.
“This morning, the invaders announced their intentions to leave the Chernobyl nuclear power plant,” Energoatom said in a statement.
The company later accused the Russian military of abducting members of the Ukrainian National Guard held captive since the start of the war. Energoatom sourced its information to workers at the plant and did not give numbers.
It also confirmed reports that Russian troops had dug trenches in the most contaminated part of the Chernobyl exclusion zone, receiving “significant doses” of radiation. There are unconfirmed reports that some are being treated in Belarus.
Report quoted workers at the plant as saying some of the soldiers had no idea they were in a radiation zone. The Russian military, however, said that after capturing the plant radiation levels at the plant itself had stayed within a normal range.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said in a statement that it was unable to confirm the reports.
The head of Ukraine’s agency in charge of the exclusion zone, Yevhen Kramarenko, said that radiation levels appeared to be normal and there was no indication of significant damage. However, as the sensors for detecting radiation levels were not working, staff needed to check the facilities, he added.
The head of the IAEA said it was in close consultations with Ukrainian authorities on sending a mission to the Chernobyl plant in the next few days.