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Russian attacks on civilian targets ended daily life in Ukraine

In the first weeks of the Russian invasion, at least 1500 buildings, Civilian structures and vehicles were damaged or destroyed in Ukraine.

More than 1,189 civilians have been killed, including at least 108 children, according to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, which noted that the true number of victims was probably much older.

This devastation, identified and cataloged by The New York Times, between February 24 and March 20, it included at least 23 hospitals and other health infrastructure; 330 schools; 27 cultural buildings; 98 commercial buildings, including at least 11 related to food or agriculture, as well as 900 houses and apartment buildings.

Valentina Melnichenko in her backyard a day after she was hit by artillery, in the village of Vrubivka, Ukraine. Photo Lynsey Addario/The New York Times.

The Times analyzed thousands of verified photos and videos, descriptions and visual evidence from official announcements from Ukraine’s military and government agencies, as well as reporting by Times journalists and news or photo agency photographers working on the ground.

Due to the difficulties in obtaining comprehensive information on events in times of war, the accounts are insufficient.

However, the extent of the evidence identified by the Times shows how, in just a few weeks, everyday life is over normal for many people in Ukraine, while Russia is being investigated for possible war crimes.

With the beginning of the invasion came aggressive air strikes against military and government buildings and airports in Ukraine.

Shortly thereafter, Russia appeared to shift many of its attacks to highly populated areas with critical civilian infrastructure.

Russian attacks have damaged kindergartens, post offices, museums, sports facilities and factories.

Electric and gas lines have been cut and bridges and train stations have been blown up.

At least ten places of worship have become targets; among them, a Malyn church, now vandalized.

Civilians have been killed in their cars.

Remains of a missile have been found in a zoo.

At least one war memorial in the small town of Bucha was shot at.

A car wash in Baryshivka, east of kyiv, was reduced to rubble.

Onions spilled from a destroyed warehouse in Mykolaiv, where several residential neighborhoods were bombed and the mortuary is overflowed

In Mariupol, residents have come under relentless attack by Russian forces and bodies are being buried in mass graves.

Recently, a city government adviser put the official death toll at 2400 civilians, well above the conservative estimate given by the UN.

The next day, Russian forces bombed the city’s Dramatic Theatre, where hundreds of people had taken refuge, most likely adding to the death toll.

The word “children” was written in Russian in giant letters on the pavement on both sides of the building, clearly visible from the sky.

A recent analysis of satellite images showed that at least 391 buildings are damaged in an area of ​​Mariupol that is rife with schools and health facilities.

An analysis of photos, videos and reports from the ground shows that at least 148 civilian structures in and around the city have been targeted, including at least one church.

Visual evidence and reports from Mariupol are particularly limited because the city has been shelled by Russian forces for weeks.

The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court launched a formal investigation into alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Under international humanitarian law, combatants and commanders must take steps to minimize harm to civilians or “civilian objects” such as houses, buildings, other infrastructure, or vehicles not used for military purposes.

In some cases, they are supposed to warn to the occupants before an attack.

Depending on the circumstances of an attack, targeting civilian structures or bombing densely populated areas indiscriminately could be a violation of the law, said Laurie Blank, a clinical professor of law at Emory University.

Videos and photos from Ukraine indicate that the Russian military has used cluster bombs in populated civilian neighborhoods.

Some countries have agreed not to use these weapons under a treaty because they are inaccurate and sometimes leave unexploded submunitions, which can pose a lasting threat to locals.

Russia and Ukraine did not sign the treaty, but the use of ammunition in populated areas can be considered an attack indiscriminate.

International law experts cautioned that photos and videos of schools and other institutions in ruins do not necessarily prove a war crime or crime against humanity has been committed.

The details of each case must be thoroughly investigated, including the intent of an attack and the surrounding circumstances (for example, if a school or grocery store was being used as a military base, it could be considered a justified target under the law). international).

In Ukraine, at leasts 62 attacks against health workers and health-related infrastructure, such as hospitals and ambulances, according to data provided by the World Health Organization, until March 22.

These attacks have caused at least 15 deaths and dozens of injuries.

The Times identified by location at least 23 medical facilities and vehicles that have been damaged during the invasion.

They included a maternity hospital in the city of Mariupol that was bombed, killing at least three people, according to government officials, including at least one child.

Despite photos and videos of the destroyed hospital in Mariupol, including images of bombing victims and United Nations corroboration, Russian officials denied attacking it or, alternatively, said it had not been used as a hospital. .

One of the images, of a pregnant woman lying on a stretcher, carried by men through fallen branches with a burning hospital in the background, appeared on the front pages of newspapers, including the Times.

Associated Pressone of the few news organizations at the time able to send dispatches from Mariupol, later reported that both she and the baby had died.

——– How This Story Was Reported The New York Times collected and cross-referenced data on attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructure, defined as non-military infrastructure, primarily from these sources: — Postings in social media posts and press releases from the Army and of Ukrainian government agencies.

— Images captured by photographers from the Times, Getty Images, Agence France-Presse, the AP, Reuters or the European Pressphoto Agency.

— Videos posted on social media verified by The New York Times Visual Investigations unit.

— Ground interviews with witnesses and locals, ground observations, and other reporting by Times reporters in Ukraine.

— Reports from non-governmental organizations.

Residents clear debris and repair windows in an apartment building after it was hit by a Russian attack in kyiv, Ukraine, March 23, 2022. (Ivor Prickett/The New York Times)

Matthew Bloch, Alain Delaquérière, Scott Reinhard, Julie Walton Shaver, Charlie Smart, and Tim Wallace contributed additional work. Ainara Tiefenthäler, Sarah Kerr, Evan Hill, Haley Willis, Brenna Smith, Christiaan Triebert, Christoph Koettl, Dmitriy Khavin, Muyi Xiao, and Blacki Migliozzi contributed reporting.

c.2022 The New York Times Company

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