Why Russia was able to seize Chernobyl less than 2 hours after the invasion and what the Kremlin intended

A Reuters investigation has found that Russia’s success at Chernobyl, which was captured less than two hours before the invasion, was not an accident but part of a long-running Kremlin infiltration of Ukrainian institutions with secret agents.

Chernobyl Russian ArmyPhoto: YouTube capture

When the first Russian military armored vehicles arrived at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant on the afternoon of February 24, they encountered a Ukrainian unit tasked with protecting the ill-fated facility. Within two hours, 169 members of the Ukrainian National Guard laid down their arms without a fight.

Thus, Russia managed to capture the key point for the Kyiv approach with less than two.

The fallout of Chernobyl, the site of the world’s worst nuclear disaster, stands as an anomaly in the five-month war: a successful blitzkrieg operation in a conflict marked elsewhere by Ukraine’s brutal advance and crushing resistance.

Five people with access to Kremlin products said the war masterminds around President Vladimir Putin believed that with the help of these operatives, Russia would only need a small military force and a few days. .

After Reuters spoke to dozens of Russian and Ukrainian officials and reviewed Ukrainian court documents related to the investigation into the conduct of people working at Chernobyl, the agency determined that agents had penetrated more deeply than officials have publicly admitted.

Both Russian and Ukrainian investigators were tasked with tracking spies briefed on Moscow’s planning for the invasion.

Russia had been infiltrating agents in Ukraine’s defense and security since before the war

“In addition to the external enemy, unfortunately we have an internal enemy, and this enemy is no less dangerous,” Oleksiy Danilov, secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine, said in an interview.

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During the invasion, Danilov said Russia had agents infiltrating the Ukrainian security, defense and law enforcement sectors. He declined to name names but said such traitors must be “neutralized” at all costs.

Ukraine’s State Intelligence Bureau is investigating whether the National Guard acted illegally by handing over its weapons to the enemy, a local official told Reuters.

The State Bureau of Investigation did not comment. The National Guard guarded its unit’s operations at the plant, raising the risk of a collision at a former nuclear power plant where radioactive waste is stored.

Court documents and testimony reveal the role played by Valentin Witter, head of Chernobyl security, who is in custody and under investigation for his absence from office.

Reuters says Vitter is suspected of treason in the preliminary investigation, a charge his lawyer says is unfounded. In a statement to investigators, Witter said that on the day of the raid, he spoke by phone with the commander of a National Guard unit. Witter advised the commander not to put his division in danger, saying, “Leave your men.”

Russian agents were sent to Chernobyl to bribe officials for an easy takeover of Chernobyl

A source with direct knowledge of the Kremlin’s invasion plans told Reuters that Russian agents were sent to Chornobyl last year to bribe officials and prepare the ground for a “bloodless” takeover. Reuters could not independently verify the details of the claim. However, Ukraine’s State Intelligence Bureau said it was investigating Andriy Naumov, a former intelligence officer, on suspicion of treason for passing Chernobyl security secrets abroad.

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Domestically, sources familiar with the Kremlin’s plans said Moscow was counting on the activation of secret agents from the Ukrainian security apparatus.

A former Ukrainian attorney general told Reuters in June that Ukrainian politician Viktor Medvechyuk, a friend of Putin, had an encrypted phone provided by Russia to communicate with the Kremlin.

Although Russia conquered Chernobyl, its plan to seize power in Kiev failed, and a puppet government had to be installed there. In many cases, according to multiple sources in Russia and Ukraine, agents established by Moscow did not do their jobs. Ukraine’s Security Council Secretary Danilov said his agents believed Ukraine was weak, a “complete misconception”.

But the Russian intelligence infiltration succeeded in one way: It sowed distrust inside Ukraine and exposed the shortcomings of Ukraine’s nearly 30,000-strong Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), which shares a troubled history with Russia and is now tasked with hunting down traitors and collaborators. .

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has arrived They should be sacked Head of the State Security Service and Prosecutor General of Ukraine, Ivan Baganov and Iryna Venediktova, for failing to resist Russian incursions.

Moscow’s spy apparatus has been intertwined with Chernobyl for decades. After the 1986 nuclear disaster, the Soviet KGB employed more than 1,000 personnel in the cleanup, according to a declassified internal memo from 1991. Then-KGB chief Viktor Sebrikov ordered his officers to recruit agents from among the plant’s employees. An internal KGB liaison from 1986 – another note says the officer must hold a senior position at headquarters to ensure security.

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