- 12:15 ET, Mar 24 2022
- Updated: 12:21 ET, Mar 24 2022
RUSSIAN troops have reportedly stolen “unstable” nuclear samples after ransacking a lab at the Chernobyl power plant, Ukraine has warned.
Putin’s men are believed to have then destroyed the £5million lab which was full of nuclear waste and located in the radioactive exclusion zone, according to The State Agency of Ukraine.
The agency – responsible for the site of the world’s worst nuclear meltdown in 1986 – said the stolen radionuclides are “highly active”.
Radionuclides are unstable atoms of chemical elements that release radiation – the fact these are now in the hands of the Russians is a major concern.
It said it hoped Russian troops “will harm [themselves] and not the civilized world” with their lethal loot from the November Central Analytical Laboratory.
In a statement, the agency said: “The laboratory contained highly active samples and samples of radionuclides that are now in the hands of the enemy.”
The agency went on to warn that, though Chernobyl is decommissioned, the lab contained pioneering equipment not available anywhere else in Europe.
The site was part of a European Union-funded program to improve the management of radioactive waste and materials by analysing samples on-site.
Worryingly, radiation levels let off from the destruction of the lab cannot be measured as the Russians destroyed the monitoring system, according to state nuclear company Energoatom.
Communications with the site have also ceased since the invasion.
The Russian military seized the decommissioned Chernobyl plant in the first week of the as one of their first objectives.
Following the attack radiation levels did rise in the area but experts suggested this was due to troop and vehicle movement.
Chernobyl has a roughly 2,600 sq km exclusion zone surrounding it and few people live in the area.
Radioactive contamination is highest and public access and inhabitation are restricted in the exclusion zone.
A US defence official told Reuters news agency on Wednesday that Russia’s combat power in Ukraine has declined below 90% of its pre-invasion levels for the first time since the war began.
The estimation suggests heavy losses shouldered by Russia.
Estimates put Russian losses at a whopping 15,600 men.
While the United Nations says it has recorded 953 civilian deaths and 1,557 injuries among Ukrainians – but the real figure is expected to be much higher.