Abandoned Russian military positions in a highly radioactive area of the exclusion zone near the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant can be seen in drone video released Wednesday by Ukrainian authorities.
The video — filmed by the Ukrainian military and released on Telegram by Energoatom, the state-owned operator of Ukraine’s nuclear power plants — shows vacant pits and trenches of abandoned military fortifications in an area known as the Red Forest.
According to Reuters, the Red Forest got its name when dozens of square kilometers of pine trees turned red after absorbing radiation from the 1986 explosion at Chernobyl — the world’s worst nuclear disaster.
Tank tracks and heavily disturbed ground can also be seen in the forest — considered the most polluted area in the entire Chernobyl exclusion zone — and off limits to anyone who does not work there or have special permission.
Radiation dangers: Last Friday, Energoatom said it was unclear what Russian troops were doing in the Red Forest and it is possible they could have received significant radiation exposure when digging or entrenching there.
Thick radioactive dust kicked up by heavy Russian vehicles could have been inhaled by the troops, who were not wearing anti-radiation protective equipment, plant workers said.
Chernobyl fell into the hands of Russian troops in the first week of the war in Ukraine. On Thursday, Russian troops announced their intention to leave and handed over control to Ukrainian personnel. The plant is now back under the control of Ukrainian authorities.