The occupation of Chornobyl NPP site is an act of nuclear terrorism of russia during the russian-Ukrainian war. When russia invaded Ukraine in 2022, the ChNPP industrial site was seized by the russian armed forces on the first day of the aggression – on 24 February. Thereafter, the site was used by the russian occupation army as a military base where they deployed soldiers and military machinery.

The invasion to the Exclusion Zone and, in particular, to the ChNPP site was made from the territory of the republic of belarus. Belarus provided its lands to russia as a staging area for an offensive against the capital of Ukraine, Kyiv.

Chronology of events
The military actions on the territory of the Chornobyl Exclusion Zone (ChEZ) commenced on 24 February on the first day of the full-scale invasion. The movement of the russian military forces through the ChEZ was one of the offensive vectors against Kyiv. On the same day – on 24 February – the russian troops captured the State Specialized Enterprise “Chornobyl NPP” (SSE ChNPP).

The first signs of the future attack of the russian armed forces from the territory of belarus appeared on 18 February. That day, as part of the joint military exercises of the russian and belarusian troops “Allied Resolve”, that lasted in belarus during 09-20 February, a pontoon bridge was built over Prypiat River only 4 km from the border with Ukraine.

The attack on the Chornobyl NPP started from Prypiat town. On 24 February, at 6 a.m., ChNPP Plant Shift Supervisor Mr. Valentyn HEIKO received the information about a large column of russian military vehicles located near the ChEZ’s Checkpoint “Paryshiv” (from belarus side). By loudspeaker he notified the plant’s personnel about the need to move to a protective shelter. At 3:30 p.m., the russian army’s staff and military machines were already in front of the ChNPP Administrative Building. Russia took control over the site.

That moment, there were 150 people from operational and support staff on the ChNPP site, as well as 178 servicemen of the Military Unit 3041 of the National Guard of Ukraine (NGU) who were guarding the plant.

The NGU’s commanders made a decision do not resist and do not fight back because the russian forces had heavy military machines capable to cause significant damage to buildings and structures during combat operations that could drive the risk of a nuclear accident at the site.

As a result of the constant shelling of the area adjacent to the Chornobyl NPP and Exclusion Zone, the russian troops damaged power lines, and the ChNPP was left without electricity on 9 March. Numerous attempts to restore the power supply were unsuccessful, as the damaged area was located in the temporarily occupied territory. The plant’s personnel started to run backup diesel generators. To ensure own needs at the ChNPP site, diesel fuel reserves were sufficient only for a period of 14 to 24 hours. A blackout at the ChNPP site plant could lead to the loss of control over the NPP’s safety and security systems, the failure of the pumps to cool the storage pool at the spent fuel storage facility, as well as the impossibility of supplying drinking water for the personnel. On 14 March, the power supply to the Chornobyl NPP was restored after it was connected to 330 kV line "Mozyr" (belarus).

The ChNPP staff, who took over the shift on 23 February 2022, were held hostages by the russian militaries, and had to stay at their workplaces 50 times longer than intended – this staff worked a shift of more than 600 hours instead of 12 hours.

On 20 March, it was possible to rotate the personnel who were under occupation at the ChNPP site. A total of 106 people left the site during that day. Along with the employees of the ChNPP, some other people who were on the territory of the occupied plant including some servicemen of the National Guard of Ukraine and the State Emergency Service, as well as illegal stalkers, were evacuated. 46 volunteer employees of the plant went to replace the evacuated personnel to perform their official duties and to ensure the operation of the enterprise’s facilities.

Watch more: Chornobyl NPP. Chronicle of Occupation

On 31 March, the russian forces left the ChNPP industrial site after they were rebuffed on the outskirts of Kyiv and were not able to capture the Ukraine’s capital. On 2 April, the ChNPP employees ceremonially raised the flag of Ukraine near the Administrative Building.

3 April 2022 is considered as an official date of ChNPP de-occupation, when the commanders of the Air Assault Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine announced about taking control of the state border of Ukraine with the republic of belarus.

Consequences of occupation
As a result of the occupation of the ChNPP industrial site by russian forces, the plant’s staff did not lose control over nuclear materials and were able to keep the NPP in the safest state possible. However, russian soldiers stole and destroyed equipment worth millions of hryvnias. The personnel who were held hostages suffered significant damage to their psychological and physical health. Also, all work schedules were disrupted that will have long-term consequences for all processes at the Chornobyl NPP.

The main consequences of the occupation:
1. Destruction of the routes for transporting personnel to the ChNPP site (previously, a trip from Slavutych (a satellite town of ChNPP) took 45 minutes by train, now personnel travel to the site by buses for 6-10 hours).
2. Plundering of equipment, office rooms and warehouses by russian troops.
3. Damages to the physical protection system of secured perimeter.
4. Occupiers’ failure to follow rules of radiation safety and sanitary-access regime that resulted in deterioration of radiation situation on the site.
5. Temporary stop of all activities (current and planned) at ChNPP, in particular, transportation of spent nuclear fuel from the old storage facility to the new one.

Moreover, 169 soldiers of the National Guard of Ukraine became prisoners of war; Slavutych town suffered an armed assault by russian forces, as a result of which four local residents died and four more were captured.

As a result of the war launched by the russian federation against Ukraine, among the personnel of the Chornobyl NPP there are people who gave their lives having defended our country and its sovereignty:
1. Volodymyr LIEDNIEV — died on 18 June 2022.
2. Andrii KRASYLOV — died on 20 August 2022.
3. Yurii VIKHARIEV — died on 23 September 2022.
4. Oleh MIKHNEVYCH — died on 30 March 2023.
5. Serhii SHABANOV — died on 9 May 2023.
6. Oleksandr MORDOVTSEV — died 11 May 2023.
7. Bohdan PEREDERII — died 22 May 2023.
8. Andrii FILATOV — died 16 June 2023.
9. Anton YEROIEV — died 14 July 2023.
10. Oleksandr YAROSH — died 29 December 2023.
11. Pavlo BURIATSKYI  — died 12 April 2022.