Russian Soldiers Struck With Radiation Sickness After Digging by Chernobyl


Trenches dug by Russian soldiers are seen near the Red Forest, which is a 10 square kilometer area surrounding the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant within the Exclusion Zone on May 29, 2022, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Russian soldiers continue to be struck with radiation sickness after fishing and digging defensive trenches near the irradiated ghost city of Chernobyl.DIMITAR DILKOFF/AFP/GETTY

Russian soldiers continue to be struck with radiation sickness after fishing and digging defensive trenches near the irradiated ghost city of Chernobyl.

The northern Ukraine cities of Chernobyl and Pripyat became the site of one of the greatest nuclear disasters in history on April 26, 1986, when the city’s power plant suffered a massive reactor meltdown. The resulting explosions and fires at the site released radioactive contaminants into the air and water, spreading far and wide into the neighboring Soviet Union and European nations.

The city remains abandoned to this day, but since the start of last year’s invasion of Ukraine by Moscow, Russian troops were reported to be setting up operations within the 30-kilometer exclusion zone near the plant after crossing the border from Belarus. This involved digging trenches in the Red Forest for defensive purposes, as well as hunting local animals and fishing for food. The forest derives its name from the distinctive color of its trees, which died after being exposed to high levels of radiation. Clean-up efforts after the plant meltdown saw crews bury irradiated topsoil in the forest, which is now considered one of the most radioactive sites on Earth.

Russian troops have abandoned the area entirely as of April 1, according to The Times, being pushed out by Ukrainian forces as they plan for a major spring counteroffensive against the invaders. The Times added that the soldiers who were stationed in the Red Forest have begun showing symptoms of radiation sickness. The condition can take hold within hours of exposure and last for several months, with early symptoms including acute nausea and vomiting. Sufferers may see the condition dissipate, but death is common, and cancers can develop as a further complication.

The Times spoke with various nearby residents who attempted to warn the troops about the dangers they faced, including 90-year-old Baba Hana.

“I started yelling at them,” Hana said. “I tried to give them political information, explaining what was happening in their country…I am a Russian speaker, I asked what they were doing there, who they thought they were liberating.”

Other residents indicated that the soldiers knew the risks posed by the area, but opted to go through with their plans due to what the residents claimed to be their incompetence.

Russian forces first crossed over into the Chernobyl exclusion zone from Belarus on the first day of the invasion last February. From the beginning, nuclear scientists warned that their actions in the area ran the risk of them developing radiation sickness. Their presence near the infamous power plant also lead to concerns that armed conflict in the area could create another nuclear disaster.

Newsweek reached out to foreign defense experts via email for comment.


  1. Last year, after reading reports of them digging positions in this planet’s most contaminated soil, we learned that ruskies are especially unintelligent creatures, very low on the evolutionary level. But, let them suffer. I wish every one of them would get radiation poisoning … or any other type of poisoning.

    • Yes, I distinctly remember one article last year when a wife called her orc and he told her he was digging lines at Chernobyl and she told him it was a radioactive restricted area and he said he had never heard of Chernobyl…propaganda kills…

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