Ukraine on Friday said radiation at the abandoned Chernobyl nuclear power plant has "exceeded" normal levels, the day after Russia invaded the nation and seized the plant, according to the Washington Post.
"The control levels of gamma radiation dose rate in the Exclusion zone were exceeded," a statement by the State Nuclear Regulatory Inspectorate of Ukraine read, attributing the change to "disturbance of the top layer of soil from movement of a large number of radio heavy military machinery through the Exclusion zone and increase of air pollution." The Russian military has disputed the Ukrainian government's statement.
President Vladimir Putin launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine on Thursday, sending thousands of troops, tanks, and planes across the border in the early hours of the morning. Russian defense officials confirmed on Friday their troops had taken Chernobyl.
The announcement prompted outrage from Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky.
"Our defenders are giving their lives so that the tragedy of 1986 will not be repeated," Zelensky tweeted on Thursday before the plant was captured. "This is a declaration of war against the whole of Europe."
The White House confirmed on Thursday there had also been "credible" reports of Russian forces holding staff at the facility hostage.
The Chernobyl plant was abandoned in the 1980s after it suffered the worst nuclear disaster in history. Its reactor lies encased in concrete on 1,000 square miles of no man's land.