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Coming in from the Cold

Episode 38: The Chernobyl Meltdown: Past and Present

On April 26, 1986, reactor No.4 of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant exploded, triggering one of the worst man-made disasters in human history. Today, Chernobyl is back in the news as the site of one of the first battles in the Russia-Ukraine War.

In this episode of Coming in From the Cold, Steve Wills sits down with Michael Kofman and Mary Chesnut, from CNA’s Russia Studies program. They discuss the impact that the Chernobyl accident had on the Ukrainian people, and the strategic value of the site today.

*Listener note: this episode was recorded on March 24, 2022, before reports emerged that Russian troops stationed in Chernobyl developed “acute radiation sickness.”


Michael Kofman is the director of CNA’s Russia Studies Program. He is an expert in Russian armed forces, military thought, capabilities, and strategy. Mr. Kofman is also a Senior Editor at War on the Rocks, where he regularly authors articles on strategy, the Russian military and Russian decision-making.


Mary Chesnut is an associate research analyst with CNA’s Russia Studies Program. Prior to joining CNA, she was the program manager of the Nuclear Security Working Group a non-partisan organization at George Washington University.


CNA Office of Communications

John Stimpson, Communications Associate