Early on 4 March 2022, Russian forces in Ukraine seized a nuclear power plant near the southern city of Enerhodar, located on the Dnieper River in the Zaporizhzhia region. The seizure followed shelling of the facility, during which a projectile struck a training building located outside of the plant. Emergency personnel extinguished the fire after several hours following incessant clashes between Ukrainian and Russian troops. Ukrainian nuclear regulators and the International Atomic Energy Agency maintain that surrounding areas remain within normal levels of radiation following the blaze. The incident prompted an emergency phone call between Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and U.S. President Joe Biden. In addition, the U.S. Department of Energy activated its nuclear incident response team. The nuclear plant is the largest such facility in Europe and accounts for approximately 25% of power generation in Ukraine.
Elsewhere in the country, Russian forces continue to move southward in an attempt to capture the capital Kyiv following little progress toward doing so in recent days. Moderate shelling was reported in the city overnight on 3-4 March. However, Russian forces continued intense bombing in the northeastern city of Kharkiv as well as in Chernihiv, located approximately 150 km (95 mi) northeast of central Kyiv. Ukrainian officials claim that 47 people were killed and 18 more were injured in Chernihiv due to Russian missile attacks that targeted residential buildings and two schools in the Staraya Podusivka area. Local emergency crews reported that they could not safely rescue victims due to prolonged clashes between Russian and Ukrainian troops. In the southeastern region, Russian forces and Russia-backed separatists have largely surrounded the port city of Mariupol — located in the Donetsk region — where intense shelling has continued since the previous day. Local correspondents indicate that residents in Mariupol have no access to water and electricity. Following Russia’s capture of the southern city of Kherson on 3 March, Russian troops have met resistance from Ukrainian troops in the nearby city of Mykolaiv. Despite intense shelling in the key cities of Chernihiv, Kharkiv and Mariupol, the Ukrainian military maintains control over those areas.
In related diplomatic developments, Russian and Ukrainian representatives held a second round of truce talks on 3 March in the Brest region of Belarus. The session concluded without a ceasefire, although a Ukrainian negotiator stated that progress was made to organize corridors for civilians fleeing the conflict and for delivering basic supplies such as food and medicine. Both Ukrainian and Russian negotiators have reportedly agreed to hold another round of talks. Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy publicly asked for direct talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin, citing that engaging in talks with Putin is the only feasible option for ending the conflict in Ukraine.