The soldiers were sent to work by the despot’s commanders, and now likely face serious health consequences. Nuclear experts have now warned many of Putin’s men will suffer from lethal cancers later in life as a result of their orders. One stated: “Putin’s commanders might as well have ordered these men to dig their own graves.”
Before they abandoned their positions last month, Russian soldiers were seen by Ukrainian locals to have skin rashes and reddened eyes.
Dr Olena Buntova, a retired biologist living in Chernobyl who has studied the effects of radiation since the 1986 meltdown, told The Sun: “How could they have been so stupid?
“The commanders who ordered the digging must have cared nothing for the safety of their men.
“No one is normally allowed to walk on the ground there or disturb it because of the levels of radioactive material still sinking through the soil.
“But the Russians dug down and were even shovelling soil into sandbags to make fortifications which surrounded their bodies with radiation.
“In years, they are likely to start paying the price. Once this material enters the body it never leaves.”
Alexander Skirta, a 47-year-old engineer, added to the publication: “Putin’s commanders might as well have ordered these men to dig their own graves.
“The trenches are next to a ‘hot spot’ marked by a radiation warning sign in the Red Forest — the most contaminated ground in the world.
“The deeper you dig, the more radioactive material you find, because it sinks into the ground over years.
“And the more you disturb the earth, the danger increases as the radiation levels rise.
“These animals came here to terrorise people so I have no sympathy for them. They deserve to suffer — and in the years to come, they will.”
Roughly 2,500 soldiers occupied Chernobyl on February 24, holding it until they were ordered to pull out on March 31.
Russian attack helicopters also reportedly ignored the permanent no-fly zone over the site, which lies at the centre of a 1,000-square-mile exclusion zone just seven miles from Ukraine’s northern border with Belarus.
READ MORE: Ukraine filmed firing rockets at Russian sites in helicopter attack [REVEAL]
Ukrainian staff were treated horribly by Russian occupiers, with some forced at gunpoint to keep working at the plant.
This was made even worse when the Russians cut the power, stopping coolant from being pumped over radioactive fuel rods.
Furthermore, around 170 Ukraine National Guard troops were locked in an underground bunker for a month with no access to natural light or fresh air.
Their fate remains unknown.
Soldiers also reportedly looted the area, plundering shops and homes for alcohol, cigarettes and food.