• Russian forces are reportedly firing at a physics institute with a nuclear reactor
  • Ukraine’s national security service made the claim on Facebook on Sunday
  • Kharkiv Institute of Physics and Technology was responsible for the first nuclear bomb developed by the Soviet Union
  • Russian solider are reportedly using imprecise Grad launchers in the assault 
  • The Neutron Source facility’s reactor contains 37 nuclear fuel cells in its core
  • The latest attack comes days after Europe’s largest nuclear power plant was shelled by Vladimir Putin’s forces

Russian forces are firing rockets at a physics institute in the city of Kharkiv that contains nuclear material and a reactor which could lead to a ‘large-scale ecological disaster’ if hit, according to Ukraine’s national security service.

The service said on Facebook on Sunday that the Russians were firing at the Kharkiv Institute of Physics and Technology from Grad launchers.

Missiles fired from Grad launchers do not have precise targeting, raising concern that one could damage the reactor and release deadly radiation across Europe.

The science institute houses the Neutron Source nuclear research facility and contains 37 nuclear fuel cells in its core, according Ukrainian foreign minister Emine Dzheppar.

The attack comes two days after Russian forces shelled Europe’s largest nuclear power plant in Zaporizhzhia, sparking fears of a nuclear disaster similar to the Chernobyl disaster in 1986.

Staff at the Ukrainian nuclear power plant were captured on video pleading with Russian soldiers directing fire on the building before they overtook it two days ago.

Ukrainian authorities released footage from inside the control room of the nuclear plant that shows an announcer begging Russian soldiers to stop shooting at the plant.

‘Stop shooting at a nuclear dangerous facility. Stop shooting immediately! You threaten the security of the whole world!’ the announcer said in a video sent to The New York Times by a source with ties to the local government.

‘The work of the vital organs of the Zaporizhzhia station may be disrupted. It will be impossible for us to restore it,’ the announcer continues.

The institute is the second Ukrainian atomic facility hit by Putin's men in the past three days

‘You are endangering the security of the entire world. Attention! Stop shooting at a nuclear hazardous facility. Stop shooting at a nuclear hazardous facility! Stop shooting at a nuclear hazardous facility! Attention! Stop it!’

The nuclear power plant, which creates around 20 percent of Ukraine’s electricity, was attacked in the early hours of Friday.

President Volodymyr Zelensky slammed Vladimir Putin’s troops for seizing the power plant as he urged Russian citizens to remember the ‘catastrophic’ Chernobyl disaster.

Nuclear experts warned the attacks were ‘frightening’ but that any disaster caused by fighting would be similar to the disaster at Fukushima, Japan in 2011 rather than Chernobyl.

The institute was responsible for the first nuclear bomb developed by the Soviet Union.

Vladimir Putin has threatened Western forces with nuclear strikes should they directly interfere with his attempts to occupy Ukraine.

Ukrainian President Voldymyr Zelensky reiterated a request for foreign protectors to impose a no-fly zone over Ukraine, which NATO so far has ruled out because of concerns such an action would draw the West directly into the war.

‘The world is strong enough to close our skies,’ Mr Zelensky said in a video address on Sunday.

Russian President Vladimir Putin warned on Saturday that Moscow would consider a third-party declaration to close Ukrainian airspace to be a hostile act.

Putin’s men unleashed a 15-hour artillery barrage on Kharkiv on Thursday as it stepped up attempts to take major Ukrainian cities.

Kharkiv is in north-eastern Ukraine and sits near the shared border with Russia.