Russia-Ukraine War: Russian forces shell at experimental nuclear reactor in Kharkiv

Russian forces based near Kyiv disperse, redeployed • Biden to call off Russian trade relations, clear way for harsher sanctions

 Members of the Ukrainian forces sit on a military vehicle amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine, in the Vyshgorod region near Kyiv, Ukraine March 10, 2022 (photo credit: REUTERS/SERHII NUZHNENKO)
Members of the Ukrainian forces sit on a military vehicle amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine, in the Vyshgorod region near Kyiv, Ukraine March 10, 2022

Russian forces shelled an institute in the city of Kharkiv that is home to an experimental nuclear reactor and a neighboring hostel is on fire, the Ukrainian Parliament said on Thursday.

In a tweet, the parliament's official website said fighting close to the Institute of Physics and Technology was continuing.

Satellite images taken on Thursday show a large Russian military convoy, last seen northwest of Kyiv near Antonov airport, has largely dispersed and redeployed, a private US company said on Thursday.

Maxar Technologies said images show armored units maneuvering in and through the surrounding towns close to the airport. It said images also show convoy elements further north have repositioned near Lubyanka with towed artillery howitzers in firing positions nearby.

At least 71 children have been killed in Russian attacks since the beginning of the war, according to Ukraine's ombudsman.

The Deputy Prime Minister of Ukraine stated in a video address that more than 80 thousand people were evacuated from Sumy, Trostyanets, and Krasnopolye in the direction of Poltava through humanitarian corridors over the last two days.

Over 400,000 civilians have so far been evacuated in Ukraine, mostly from active battle zones, interior minister Denys Monastyrsky said on national television on Thursday.

Ukraine's Dmytro Kuleba said he had secured no promise from Russia's Sergei Lavrov on Thursday to halt firing so aid could reach civilians, including Kyiv's main humanitarian priority — evacuating hundreds of thousands of people trapped in the besieged port of Mariupol.

The foreign ministers of Russia and Ukraine met in Turkey, the highest level contact between the two countries since the war began on February 24, but in simultaneous dueling news conferences made clear they had made no progress.


US President Joe Biden on Friday will call for an end of normal trade relations with Russia and clear the way for increased tariffs on Russian imports, a source familiar with the situation told Reuters.

Goldman Sachs Group Inc said on Thursday it was closing its operations in Russia, becoming the first major Wall Street bank to exit the country following Moscow's invasion of Ukraine.

"Goldman Sachs is winding down its business in Russia in compliance with regulatory and licensing requirements," the bank said in an emailed statement.

In its annual filing earlier, the bank had disclosed a credit exposure to Russia of $650 million.

The Sony and Warner music groups also announced that they would stop activities in Russia.

Negotiations Fail

Lavrov showed no sign of making any concessions, repeating Russian demands that Ukraine be disarmed and accept neutral status. He said Kyiv appeared to want meetings for the sake of meetings, and blamed the West for intensifying the conflict by arming its neighbor.

Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said on the eve of his talks with Russia's Sergei Lavrov that his expectations were low. Russian negotiator Leonid Slutsky said Moscow "will not concede a single negotiating point."

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov also told reporters in a briefing that Ukraine was "constantly" proposing talks between Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin.

Lavrov said on Thursday that Putin would not refuse a meeting with Zelensky to discuss "specific" issues.

Germany's ex-chancellor Gerhard Schröder visited Moscow on Thursday and asked Putin to end the war.

Humanitarian efforts 

Previous talks have focused mainly on creating limited local ceasefires to reach civilians in besieged cities, especially Mariupol, a southern port where hundreds of thousands of people have been trapped with no access to water, medicine or food in conditions the Red Cross has called "apocalyptic".

Despite failures to secure assurances from Russia for evacuations, the Ukrainian military announced at noon on Thursday that the same day there would several humanitarian corridors opened. Civilians would attempt to evacuate by bus from the Sumy region through 3 corridors, and from Izum, Mariupol, Volnovakha, Borodianka, Bucha, Irpin, Gostomel. 

The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry had said on Wednesday that Russia had disrupted a humanitarian corridor for the third time. Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said that Ukraine would have to try to establish a humanitarian corridor to the encircled Azov Sea coastal city of Mariupol, or evacuate civilians by sea. 

Zelensky said on Wednesday that "in total, about 35,000 people were rescued," using three humanitarian corridors from Sumy, Kyiv, and  Enerhodar. "We will continue tomorrow. We are preparing six corridors. We pray that people will be taken out of Mariupol, Izyum, Volnovakha, etc. Taken to safe cities of our free Ukraine."

Humanitarian aid reached Energodar on Thursday evening, according to Mayor Dmitry Orlov. A previous attempt to send humanitarian aid to the city failed.

Struggle over air superiority 

On Thursday, the skies over Ukraine remained contested.

"There has been a notable decrease in overall Russian air activity over Ukraine in recent days, likely due to the unexpected effectiveness and endurance of Ukrainian Air Defence forces," said the UK Defense Ministry on Thursday.

Despite the lack of Russian air superiority, the Ukrainians repeated their plea for a no-fly zone and fighter jets. 

"Either close the Ukrainian sky from Russian missiles and bombs, or give us fighter jets so that we can do everything ourselves. A pause without a decision has become simply deadly," said President Volodymyr Zelensky late Wednesday.

Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba also appealed for aircraft on Wednesday, following an alleged Russian airstrike on a hospital and maternity ward in Mariupol. "We could stop this barbarism by protecting our skies," he tweeted. "For the sake of humanity, provide us with aircraft, now! Lives are being lost while this is being considered over and over again."

"During the last two days, the fighter jet and missile units destroyed four Su-25s and two enemy helicopters," The Ukrainian military said on Thursday.

Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III said on Wednesday that the US did not support the transfer of fighter aircraft to Ukraine, according to the US Department of Defense. 

"The best way to support Ukrainian defense is by providing them the weapons and the systems that they need most to defeat Russian aggression; in particular, anti-armor and air defense," said Pentagon Press Secretary John F. Kirby on Wednesday. "We, along with other nations, continue to send them these weapons and we know that they're being used with great effect. They slowed the Russian advance in the north. And the contested airspace over Ukraine is evidence alone of that."

Stalled Russian advances 

The Russian advance on Kyiv continues to stall, the UK Defense Ministry said on Thursday. The Ukrainian Intelligence agency GUR claimed on Thursday that a Russian Colonel Zakharov was killed and that a tank regiment had suffered significant losses in fighting near Kyiv, resulting in a Russian retreat.

Toward the evening, Russian forces filed two missiles at the airport in Dnipropetrovsk region.

The Ukrainian military said on Thursday morning that it was concentrating on preventing Russian advance from the southeast of the country. It said that it was holding off Russian advances in the Donetsk, Slobozhansky, Kherson and parts of the Tavrij regions, as well as the cities of Kyiv, Kharkiv and Okhtirku. Mariupol continued to be besieged by Russian forces. 

Poliske, Kukhari, Borodyanka, Andriivka, Miotizhyn, Gorenyichi, Bucha and Demidiv continued to be held by Russian forces.

Belarus leader Alexander Lukashenko told his defense ministry on Thursday that the Belarussian army must prevent any attack on Russian forces from the rear, the state news agency BelTa said.

Russia used its ally Belarus as one of the launchpads for its invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24. Lukashenko was quoted as telling defense chiefs that they must prevent any attempt - presumably by Ukrainian forces - to cut off Russian supply lines and "strike at Russians from the rear."

Russia has destroyed "2,911 objects of Ukrainian military infrastructure," Russian Defense Ministry spokesperson Major General Igor Konashenkov said on Thursday, according to TASS.

On Thursday afternoon, Zelensky signed a new law stating that Russian property in Ukraine should be forcibly seized without compensation for its value.

This included 97 aircraft, 107 UAVs, 141 anti-air systems, 86 radar posts, 986 tanks and armored vehicles, 107 MLRS, and 368 artillery and mortar pieces.  

The Ukrainian military claimed that more than 12,000 Russian military personnel had been killed by Thursday. The General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine also said that it had destroyed 255 tanks, 1105 armored vehicles, 1233 artillery pieces, 56 multiple launch rocket systems (MLRS) 29 anti-aircraft systems, 48 warplanes, 81 helicopters, 526 other ground vehicles, 3 ships, 60 fuel tankers, and 7 UAVs.

The UK Defense Ministry said on Thursday that "Russia has deployed conscript troops to Ukraine despite previous public assurances from President Putin not to do so. As casualties mount, President Putin will be forced to draw from across the Russian Armed Forces and other sources to replace his losses."

Another UK intelligence update warned on Thursday that "experienced mercenaries from Russian Private Military Companies (PMCs) are likely deploying to fight in Ukraine to support the Russian invasion."