On March 6, 2022, Russian soldiers attacked the Kharkiv Institute of Physics and Technology amidst its invasion of and armed aggression against Ukraine.
The rocket attack left an unspecified number of individuals wounded, according to one source, and caused significant damage to an atomic physics laboratory and the Ukraine Neutron Source (UNS). State officials described UNS as being “designed for scientific and applied research in the field of nuclear physics, radiation materials science, biology and chemistry and for the production of medical radioisotopes.”
Russian armed forces have attacked a growing number of nuclear facilities across Ukraine, raising grave concerns over the risk of a nuclear disaster.
Scholars at Risk is concerned about an attack targeting a scientific research institution and reports of casualties resulting from this attack. Parties to a conflict may only attack legitimate military targets. Where a party suspects that a civilian facility — such as a university building or research institute — is being used for military purposes, that party has a duty to take every action practicable to verify that this suspicion is correct before initiating an attack. In the event of such an attack, parties must take all practicable precautions to avoid or minimize damage to civilian facilities. Further, parties must refrain from launching attacks which may be expected to cause disproportionate damage to civilian facilities.