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War in Ukraine, Day 9: for the first time in history, fighting around nuclear power plants

War in Ukraine
War in Ukraine, Day 9: for the first time in history, fighting around nuclear power plants
Article by: Hans Petter Midttun
Russian forces have captured Europe’s largest nuclear power plant and control their first administrative center, Kherson, from which they plan to launch an assault on south-Ukrainian towns. There are plans to hold a large staged separatist rally there today. At the same time, attempts to capture Kyiv have been unsuccessful. Ukraine faces a looming humanitarian crisis and an estimated 1 million Ukrainian refugees have left the country.

The report is based on media reports, expert analyses, and official information posted online.

Situation as of March 4, 8:00

According to information from the General Staff of Ukraine as of Operational information on 06.00, 04.03.2022

“As of 06:20, the fire in the training building of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Station in Energodar was extinguished. There are no victims.

The main efforts of the occupiers are focused on the encirclement of Kyiv and the weakening of resistance in the blocked settlements. In the course of this task, the groups of the Russian Armed Forces exhausted most of the operational reserves and began preparations for the transfer of additional forces and resources from the Southern and Eastern military districts. The second echelons and most of the operational reserves of the occupying groups were put into operation.

In the Volyn direction, the enemy with the help of two Batallion Tactical Groups (BTGs) moved to defensive operations in the areas of Poliske and Kukhari. It is possible that the occupier will carry out armed provocations at the border in order to involve the armed forces of Belarus in the war against Ukraine.

In the Polissya direction, a group of occupiers consisting of military units of the Eastern Military District with forces of up to fifteen BTGs is conducting an offensive operation in the Kozarovychi, Vyshhorod, Fastiv, Obukhiv lanes, concentrating efforts in the direction of Byshiv and Ukrainka. In the struggle in the area of ​​the settlements of Poliske, Kukhari, Borodyanka, Byshiv, Gorenychi, Demidiv, the enemy partially lost its offensive potential.

The main enemy forces were blocked and stopped in the Makarov area. The occupiers withdrew from Bucha and Gostomel airfield.

In the northern direction, a group of troops from the Central Military District with forces of up to fourteen BTGs, as well as the 14th Army District of the Northern Fleet is conducting an offensive operation in the Oster, Zazimya, Berezan, Vyshenky, focusing on Kyiv. At the same time, the enemy regrouped in order to continue the offensive in the direction of Brovary.

In the Slobozhansky direction, a group of troops of the Western Military District with forces of up to sixteen BTGs is conducting an offensive operation, concentrating efforts on the direction of Novomoskovsk. It blocks Kharkiv from the North. Captured Balakleya. The enemy did not succeed in the Okhtyrka area and concentrated its main forces in the Gadyach and Zinkiv districts.

In the Donetsk direction, the enemy grouping forces of the 1st and 2nd Army Corps reinforced by seven BTGr from the 8th Army continues the offensive to develop tactical success in the Novoaidar, Volnovakha, and Mariupol areas, went to the village of Novooleksandrivka. Having a significant advantage in equipment, the enemy surrounded Mariupol.

In the Luhansk direction fighting continues in the direction of n.p. Starobilsk.

In the Tavriya direction, the enemy, with forces of up to fifteen BTGs, concentrated its efforts in the direction of Mykolayiv – Voznesensk. After regrouping and involving part of the operational reserves in the BTGr continues the offensive in the direction of Zaporizhzhia, part of the forces – in Mariupol. The involvement in the operation of airborne assault units of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation in the direction of Mykolayiv is noted.

The occupiers were stopped in the Mykolayiv direction but had partial success in the direction of Voznesensk.

The movement of a large number of motor vehicles from the temporarily occupied territory of the Crimea in which occupiers carry out the transportation of criminals from places of execution of punishments for the organization of riots in the Mykolayiv area is noted.

In the Black Sea, a naval group of Russian occupiers was withdrawn from naval bases with the task of striking the surface forces of a group of diverse forces of the Ukrainian Navy.

At the same time, the enemy continues to prepare for the landing of marines in Zatoka, Black Sea. The groups are covered by a detachment of fire support ships and a missile boat strike group.

To suppress the anti-aircraft defense system of Ukraine on the Black Sea coast, the involvement of Su-24M bombers was noted and the disposable bomb cartridge RBC-500 bombs were recorded. The cover was provided by Su-30CM fighters.

In all directions, the enemy has losses, demotivated occupiers surrender and abandon equipment. These trophies help to beat the Russian invaders.”

Ukrainians keep being warned about psychological operations. Russia is believed to launch a deep fake in which Zelensky will declare his surrender.

As of 03.03.2022 morning, the approximate losses of weapons and military equipment of the enemy of the Russian Armed Forces from the beginning of the war to the present day:

  • personnel – 9166 people (+166),
  • tanks – 225 units (+8),
  • armored combat vehicles – 939 units (+39),
  • artillery systems – 105 (+15),
  • multiple rocket launchers – 50 (+8),
  • air defense means – 18 (+7),
  • aircraft – 33 (+3),
  • helicopters – 37 (+6);
  • automotive technology – 404 (+49),
  • light speedboats – 2 units (no change),
  • fuel and lubricant tanks – 60 (no change),
  • UAV operational and tactical level – 3 (no change).

Ukrainian media report:

  • Zaporizhzhia NPP site seized by Russian military forces – State Inspectorate for Nuclear Regulation of Ukraine
  • The Russian occupiers, as is often the case, continue to shell Ukrainian cities in the evening. Kharkiv and Izium are currently under attack.
  • Kharkiv Oblast: The village of Yakovlivka and the city of Izium has been heavily bombed.
  • Kyiv Oblast: the Ukrainian flag was raised in Bucha. Fighting continues around Hostomel.
  • Odesa Oblast: a Russian plane was shot down near Bilhorod-Dnistrovsky.
  • Chernihiv Oblast: a residential area in the city center, two schools, and private houses were attacked.
  • Sumy Oblast: Yesterday, Russians bombed a thermal power plant and a railway station in Okhtyrka


OCHA Ukraine reports ss of 15:00 (EET) 3 March:

  • The most affected areas of the country are facing a major humanitarian crisis. Increasing numbers of people are trapped in cities under constant attack, as wide-scale evacuations have not been possible in certain locations.
  • Over the reporting period, major urban centers, such as Kharkiv (east), Kherson (south), Mariupol (south-east) and the capital Kyiv, witnessed the most intense clashes since the Russian military offensive began on 24 February. Settlements along the “contact line” in Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts, such as Volnovakha, Shchastia, and Stanytsia Luhanska, have been all but completely devastated.
  • Between 4 a.m. on 24 February and 2 March 2022, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) recorded 802 civilian casualties in Ukraine, including 249 people killed. The human cost of ongoing clashes is likely much higher as access and security challenges make it difficult to verify the actual number of deaths and injuries.
  • As clashes escalate, a growing number of people are being displaced every day within Ukraine and across international borders. According to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), a staggering 1 million have fled Ukraine during the last week.

The Hague Prosecutor’s Office has begun collecting evidence of Russia’s actions in Ukraine. The Hague Prosecutor’s Office needs the help of Ukrainians and citizens are asked to join the collection of facts proving the war crimes of the Russian Federation.

The media is reporting that Russian forces are bringing people from the occupied Crimea to Kherson to a fake “separatist rally” allegedly in support of the occupation of the city.


For the first time in our history, we experience warfighting around Nuclear Power Plants. The consequences are potentially horrendous. Tonight media reported that the Russian army was shelling the area around Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power (NPP). It is the largest nuclear power plant in Europe and among the 10 largest in the world.

Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Dmytro Kuleba has demanded that the Russians immediately cease fire, allow firefighters, and create a security zone.

The Director-General of the Zaporizhzhia NPP says nuclear safety at the plant has been violated. A fire that broke out in a training building near the largest nuclear power plant in Europe during intense fighting between Russian and Ukrainian forces has been extinguished, Ukraine’s state emergency service said on Friday.

US Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said there was no indication of elevated radiation levels at the Zaporizhzhia plant, which provides more than a fifth of total electricity generated in Ukraine.

The Minister of Environment and Natural Resources, Ruslan Strelets, called on foreign countries to help stop the aggressor to avoid a catastrophe:

At the Chornobyl station, we saw the consequences of the accident on only one power unit. There are 6 of them at [Zaporizhzhia NPP]! It threatens not only Ukraine, not only Europe but the whole world.”

Due to the serious situation at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, the IAEA is transferring its Incident and Emergency Center to a 24-hour response mode.

New developments

During yesterday’s negotiations between Russia and Ukraine, the two sides agreed on provisions for several humanitarian issues. According to DW, the understanding involves a temporary cease-fire to allow the evacuation of citizens and the delivery of aid to areas where fierce fighting has been taking place. The Ukrainian negotiator said that the second round of cease-fire talks had not yielded the results Kyiv hoped for, but the sides had agreed to speak again. According to the Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podoliak the cease-fires will only take place in designated humanitarian corridor areas.

According to Reuters, The European Union is seeing signs on social media that Russia could introduce martial law in the country after it invaded Ukraine, an EU official said on Thursday. The official said the bloc was picking up speculation on social media about potential Russian plans, which it said would be “completely home-produced.”

RFERL reports that a

“committee in Russia’s State Duma has approved a draft law criminalizing the distribution of ‘false news’ about military operations amid a crackdown on independent media outlets covering Moscow’s ongoing, unprovoked invasion of Ukraine. After full approval by lawmakers, the bill is expected to be added as a separate article to the Criminal Code to “prevent the discrediting of the armed forces of the Russian Federation during their operations to protect the interests of the Russian Federation and its citizens, maintaining international peace and security.”


CNN reports that the USA has imposed new sanctions Thursday on eight members of the Russian elite, along with members of their families, as he warned Russia is intensifying its bloody invasion of Ukraine with indiscriminate bombing.

UK has announced that a full asset freeze and travel ban has been imposed against Alisher Usmanov and Igor Shuvalov, 2 of Russia’s leading oligarchs with significant interests in the UK and close links to the Kremlin.

According to Reuters, the European Union is waiting to see the impact of a slew of sanctions on Russia before imposing any more, but it is working on further steps that could include targeting crypto-assets, officials said on Thursday. “Our aim is to cut the Kremlin’s capacity to wage war on its neighbors,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said.

Russia was suspended from the Council of the Baltic Sea States. The members of the Council of the Baltic Sea States (CBSS) – Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Sweden, and the European Union – have decided to suspend Russia from further participation in the Council’s activities in response to the unprovoked and illegal war now being waged by Russia against Ukraine, the Ukrainian people, and the country’s authorities.

The Czech Republic has declared a state of emergency for 30 days due to the arrival of thousands of refugees from Ukraine. The government explains this by a significant threat to internal order and security in connection with the migration wave – according to ministers, about 5,000 Ukrainian refugees come to the Czech Republic every day.


Yesterday, the Institute for the Study of War published the following assessment:

“The Russian military has continued its unsuccessful attempts to encircle Kyiv and capture Kharkiv. The Russians continued to attack piecemeal, committing a few battalion tactical groups at a time rather than concentrating overwhelming force to achieve decisive effects. Russian commanders appear to prefer opening up new lines of advance for regiment-sized operations but have been unable to achieve meaningful synergies between efforts along different axes toward the same objectives. They have also continued conducting operations in southern Ukraine along three diverging axes rather than concentrating on one or attempting mutually supporting efforts. These failures of basic operational art—long a strong suit of the Soviet military and heavily studied at Russian military academies—remain inexplicable as does the Russian military’s failure to gain air superiority or at least to ground the Ukrainian Air Force.

The Russian conventional military continues to underperform badly, although it may still wear down and defeat the conventional Ukrainian military by sheer force of numbers and brutality. Initial indications that Russia is mobilizing reinforcements from as far away as the Pacific Ocean are concerning in this respect. Those indications also suggest, however, that the Russian General Staff has concluded that the forces it initially concentrated for the invasion of Ukraine will be insufficient to achieve Moscow’s military objectives.

Operations to envelop Kyiv remain Russia’s main effort. Russian troops are also continuing three supporting efforts, one to seize Kharkiv, one to take Mariupol and secure the “land bridge” connecting Rostov-on-Don to Crimea, and one to secure Kherson and set conditions for a drive west toward Mykolayiv and Odesa.

The Russian attack on Kyiv likely consists of the main effort aimed at enveloping and ultimately encircling the city from the west and a supporting effort along the axes from Chernihiv and Sumy to encircle it from the east.

Russian forces in the south resumed offensive operations toward Mykolayiv on March 3 after securing Kherson on March 2, but do not appear to pose an imminent danger to Odesa. Russian forces likely seek to force Mariupol to capitulate by destroying critical civilian infrastructure and killing civilians to create a humanitarian catastrophe—an approach Russian forces have repeatedly taken in Syria.”

Key Takeaways

  • Russian forces opened a new line of advance from Belarus south toward Zhytomyr Oblast, west of Kyiv, as Russian forces attempting to encircle Kyiv from the northwest were driven further west by determined Ukrainian resistance and counterattacks. Russian forces will struggle to complete an encirclement of Kyiv at all if they have to advance along ring roads as far from the city center as those they are now using.
  • Russian forces on the east bank of the Dnipro River remain unable to secure the important town of Chernihiv or to break through Ukrainian defenses in the northeastern outskirts of Kyiv.
  • Russian ground forces have remained relatively static near Kharkiv as Russian artillery, air, and missile bombardments wreak devastation in the city. The Ukrainian military indicates that a regiment-sized Russian formation will try to envelop or bypass Kharkiv in the coming days. Similar Russian attempts at such operations elsewhere in Ukraine render the success of such an undertaking at that scale unlikely.
  • Russian forces are attempting once again to open a line of advance through northern Luhansk Oblast, possibly to assist efforts at Kharkiv or, as the Ukrainian General Staff assesses, to drive on Dnipro and Zaporizhzhia. The Russian forces currently reported as engaging in that drive are far too small to attack either city successfully and are probably insufficient to sustain a long drive on their own.
  • Russian troops have surrounded Mariupol and are attacking it brutally to compel its capitulation or destroy it.
  • The mayor of Kherson conditionally surrendered to the Russians, allowing Russian forces to renew their advance on Mykolayiv, which they have done. The Ukrainian military nevertheless reportedly defeated an attempted Russian air assault to take an airfield near Mykolayiv.” 

According to the Center for Defence Strategies:

”The introduction of the tactic of bombing cities shows also the will of Putin not to go for real negotiations and win at all costs. But how do we define winning? The biggest question is what is the political goal from the current operational plan? Putin clearly is not winning the hearts and minds of people – after horrendous cases of destruction of the normal peaceful life, almost all Ukrainian population fiercely hate Russians.

Whatever is the final outcome of this operation, Putin is not going to bring Russia and Ukraine anywhere close. Two nations once friendly and historically/culturally/ ethnically close are broken now for many years (or decades). Too many Russians consciously carry and express the guilt for what is happening. Lots are wondering why they need to lose their men in the needless and senseless war. That is damaging Russian society from within.

Putin’s continuous repeating of the ‘Nazi’ narrative, which makes no sense to anyone except his clique, obsession with Ukraine undertaking as a whole, his cold-blooded killings of civilians in strikes and armed attacks, ignorant today’s statement that the ‘operation is going in accordance with the plan’ and obsessive desire to continue no matter what raises serious questions about his general rationality. His emotional state and newly adopted lifestyle add to those questions.

Whatever happens, huge compensations are already due. Russia is now a pariah state for the whole democratic world and is being excluded from multiple commercial transactions. It becomes isolated from global social activities. The recent UN General Council resolution demonstrates global condemnation. An unprecedented support of the Ukraine movement around the world dominates today’s agenda. Putin personally already alienated himself from the world, made up a massive case for war crimes tribunal, tremendously weakened its economy and humiliated the image of the great Russian army. Whatever the outcome of this war, those facts have already been established.

That puts lots of questions of the outcomes, which Putin can consider as a victory. Even if he declares some results as a victory, his losses are already far greater. Putin has already become an unaffordable liability for the majority of the population and, importantly, for the country’s top elite, which enjoyed the decades of stability and money-making opportunities.” 

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