Russian soldiers may be suffering radiation sickness from “Red Forest” exposure
By Julia Conley, Commons Dreams
Editor’s note: There are also wildfires raging in the area that Ukrainian authorities said could not be put out due to the Russian takeover, preventing Ukrainian firefighting teams from doing their work. Wildfires can also dramatically raise radiation levels and redistribute radioactivity. The Russian exodus may also have been connected to this, but getting hard and reliable information out of occupied Ukraine remains challenging. Some news outlets, sourcing Energoatom, are reporting that one Russian soldier may have already died due to his exposure to radiation, after camping in the Red Forest. “Seven busloads of Russian soldiers believed to be suffering from the effects of radiation poisoning later arrived at the Belarusian Radiation Medicine Centre in Gomel, according to the Ukrainian news agency UNIAN,” writes the Daily Express.
The International Atomic Energy Agency said Thursday that Russian forces have almost entirely left the site of the former Chernobyl nuclear power plant in northern Ukraine, where officials said they were exposed to “significant doses” of radiation since taking over the site in late February.
The BBC reported that some soldiers are being treated in Belarus for radiation sickness, which can cause a range of symptoms depending on the level of exposure including nausea, vomiting, skin damage, and seizures or coma in extreme cases.
The agency reported that Russian soldiers dug trenches in the “Red Forest,” which surrounds the former Chernobyl power plant that was the site of the worst nuclear disaster in history in 1986. The forest has the most radioactive contamination of any part of the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, a 1,000-square-mile area that was closed to the public after the accident, and was called the Red Forest after pine trees in the area turned red due to radiation absorption.
One employee told the outlet the Russian military’s actions were “suicidal,” referring to troops who drove armored vehicles through the Red Forest and disturbed radioactive dust without radiation protection, likely causing internal radiation exposure as they inhaled the dust.
“The convoy kicked up a big column of dust. Many radiation safety sensors showed exceeded levels,” a worker told Reuters on Tuesday.