Ukraine recaptures Chernobyl as Russian soldiers flee after radiation sickness
Ukrainian officials will seek to send a mission to the plant in the coming days.
Ukrainian forces have retaken the Chernobyl nuclear plant after Russian forces were exposed to "significant doses" of radiation.
Ukraine's state power company, Energoatom, confirmed the Russian retreat after forces invaded the infamous facility soon after the invasion began in late February.
The last Russian soldiers are believed to have left on Thursday (31 March), with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) confirming that ownership of the area was transferred in writing.
"This morning, the invaders announced their intentions to leave the Chernobyl nuclear power plant," Energoatom wrote in a statement alongside the signed document.
"The information is confirmed that the occupiers, who seized the Chernobyl nuclear power plant and other facilities in the exclusion zone, have set off in two columns towards the Ukrainian border with the Republic of Belarus."
It's believed Russian soldiers disturbed irradiated matter while digging trenches in the exclusion zone, but Energoatom did not confirm the condition of exposed soldiers, nor how many were affected.
The IAEA is now looking for an independent assessment as they were unable to confirm Energoatom's report.
Reports from the early days of the invasion suggested Chernobyl radiation was at "excess levels."
However, quotes obtained from Reuters suggest that Russian soldiers did not know the area was irradiated.
Russian soldiers reportedly drove through Chernobyl's extremely radioactive 'red forest,' kicking up dangerous dust particles — former plant workers called the move 'suicidal' pic.twitter.com/Mv08Djvb8j
— NowThis (@nowthisnews) March 31, 2022
The head of Ukraine's agency in charge of the exclusion zone, Yevhen Kramarenko, said that radiation levels appeared to be normal.
The IAEA intends to send a mission to the power plant to assess the threat level over the coming days.