Source: Cristina Laila

The Russian military on Thursday evening captured the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, an adviser to the Ukrainian presidential office, Mykhailo Podolyak, according to Reuters.

“It is impossible to say the Chernobyl nuclear power plant is safe after a totally pointless attack by the Russians,” Podolyak said.

“This is one of the most serious threats in Europe today,” he said.

Reuters reported:

Russian troops took over the power plant while Ukrainian forces battled them on three sides on Thursday after Moscow mounted an assault by land, sea and air in the biggest attack on a European state since World War Two.

Some Russian military massed in the Chernobyl “exclusion zone” before crossing into Ukraine early on Thursday, a Russian security source said.

Russia wants to control the Chernobyl nuclear reactor to signal NATO not to interfere militarily, the same source said.

The Chernobyl disaster in then-Soviet Ukraine sent clouds of nuclear material across much of Europe in 1986 after a botched safety test in the fourth reactor of the atomic plant.

Decades later, it became a tourist attraction. About a week before the Russian invasion the Chernobyl zone was shut down for tourists.

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Explosions were heard Thursday morning in several cities including Kharkiv, Kramatorsk, Odessa, and Berdyansk.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said his country suffered “serious losses” after Russian air strikes hit 25 cities.

According to reports, at least 40 Ukrainian soldiers have been killed and a few civilians are dead as of Thursday evening.