Russian artillery has been deliberately attacking Kherson’s medical infrastructure, including children’s hospitals, since Ukraine liberated the city last year, according to an independent UK-based NGO.
The southern Ukrainian city of Kherson was the first major city to be captured and occupied by Russian forces following its full-scale invasion. In September 2022, Moscow declared the city to be part of the Russian Federation, following a fake referendum.
However Ukrainian forces liberated the city in November, after which Russian forces have carried out almost daily artillery and missile bombardment of the city aimed at civilian infrastructure, in general, and medical facilities, in particular. This has been with the sole aim of punishing its inhabitants and making life unbearable.
The UK-based Centre for Information Resilience (CIR) is an independent NGO that works to expose human rights abuses and war crimes through open-source research. As part of its Eyes on Russia project CIR has collected, verified and documented social media and other open-source material, including videos, photos and satellite imagery, that demonstrate Russia’s unceasing attacks against Kherson’s medical infrastructure.
Its findings have been published this week in a 30-page report: “Kherson after occupation: Mapping Russian attacks on medical infrastructure.”
The findings of the report leave no doubt that Russian forces on the adjacent eastern bank of the Dnipro River have “deliberately and repeatedly targeted” civilian infrastructure, including the railway station, schools, residential premises, and in particular medical facilities. The NGO said the “situation for residents has become dire.”
The CIR document identifies more than 14 separate attacks against 7 public medical facilities, including maternity wards, children’s hospitals, a cardiology department, and rehabilitation centers, in the period between December 2022 and May 2023.
International medically-related sites have also not been immune to the onslaught. The International Red Cross (IRC) offices in Kherson was hit three times during the same period, with its medical workers once again being intentionally targeted with a nurse and a civilian being killed and several bystanders injured.
Aftermath of January 2023 attack on IRC offices
Since then, CIR contends that the attacks have not ceased; the latest strike being on a hospital, which was attacked twice in 72 hours between Aug. 1 and 4, killing a doctor and injuring several people including four health workers.
The report drew parallels with the tactics employed by Russia in Syria saying it carried out “punitive strikes delivered day after day for years in rebel-held areas of Idlib and Aleppo that were unconnected to any ground operations,” and increasingly directed at “medical infrastructure.”
CIR noted that Kherson was “acutely vulnerable” because it was close to Russian dug-in positions on Dnipro’s left bank but had revealed that other Ukrainian cities close to the frontline were victims of similar “strategic bombardment.”
The report holds out little hope that the bombardment of Kherson will end any time soon, in spite of reports that Ukrainian forces have seized bridgeheads on the eastern bank of the Dnipro. Until Russian forces are finally dislodged the report concludes that “The only effective mitigation … is to [continue to] strike [Russian] positions, troops and munition stores in occupied territory. As long as Russian forces are able to deploy on the opposite bank of the Dnipro, Kherson will continue to suffer.”
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