Once the war ends, an international tribunal must surely await Putin, his government and those who committed some of the most appalling acts against the people of Ukraine in his name.

This second anniversary of the launch of Putin’s so-called “special military operation” is as good (or bad) a time as ever to remind Kyiv Post’s readers of the horrors Russia has inflicted, using some of the most visible war crimes perpetrated on behalf of the leadership and people of the Russian Federation.

This list is by no means complete, and the fact that we mention these particular events now does not mean that there are no other examples of the war crimes Russia has committed and continues so to do. The atrocities enumerated here illustrate the inexplicable criminal conduct of Moscow’s servant and the inhuman treatment inflicted on Ukrainians over the last two years.


The war crimes committed by the Russian Federation are crimes against humanity and must be punished.

Bucha massacres – February and March 2022

The mass murder of Ukrainian civilians and prisoners of war by the Russian Armed Forces has been a feature of Moscow’s campaign. This is exemplified by the events that occurred during the fight for and occupation of the town of Bucha in the first month of Russia’s invasion. According to local authorities, 458 bodies have been recovered from the town, including nine children under the age of 18; among the victims, 419 people were killed with weapons and 39 appeared to have died of natural causes related to the occupation. Many of the recovered bodies showed signs of torture and many had been executed while their hands were tied. Sadly, this is not the only instance of Russian savagery in the areas they had occupied.

The Antonov An-225 “Mriya” - 27 February, 2022

Russian troops destroyed the plane on Feb. 27 during the early days of the month-long battle for Hostomel airport, during the first days of invasion. The An-225 Mriya aircraft remains the heaviest aircraft ever built and was a symbol of pride, technical and social progress in Ukraine which was, presumably, sufficient incentive for Russians to smash it - its destruction was felt painfully across the country and, in turn, became a symbol of Ukrainian resolve not to be beaten.


Kramatorsk railway station - 9 April 2022

Two Soviet-era Tochka-U ballistic missiles, armed with cluster munitions, struck the city’s railway station where between 1,000 and 4,000 civilians, mainly the elderly, women and children, were waiting for evacuation from the region, which was being subjected to heavy Russian shelling.  At around 10:30 the two missiles struck, killing 63 civilians, including nine children, and wounded 150, of which 34 were children. Later, Russian authorities denied responsibility and blamed the attack on Ukraine. Who can forget the heartbreaking images of blood, bandages, toys and abandoned luggage that marked the aftermath of the attack.

The continuing tragedy of Mariupol

Almost from the start of the war, the city of Mariupol – a mostly Russian-speaking port of half a million people (of Ukrainian, Russian, Greek, and Armenian descent) came under a siege that was to last for months. In the course of three months incessant missile, aircraft and artillery barrages destroyed more than 90 percent of the city’s buildings and killed at least 25,000 civilians – most buried in unmarked mass graves. Its residents cowered in basements and lived in “apocalyptic conditions”, without food, water, power, and heat. Russian forces blocked humanitarian aid coming in and prevented people from leaving or fired upon those fleeing in previously agreed evacuation corridors. Explosions destroyed a maternity hospital, a theatre and an art school in which civilians had taken shelter, schools, grocery stores, and residences.


Mariupol’s Drama Theatre - 16 March, 2022

The basements of the Donetsk Regional Academic Drama Theater were used as bomb shelters by hundreds of Ukrainian civilians, who placed markers informing Russia’s aerospace forces that it housed children. Nevertheless, shortly after 10 a.m. on Wednesday March 16 a Russian aircraft dropped two aerial bombs on the theater in which, according to Ukrainian official reports, at least 600 civilians were sheltering at the time. Two days later, Mariupol City Council reported citing eyewitnesses, that the bombs had killed more than 300 people and that nearly 130 survivors had been pulled from the wreckage of this once beautiful auditorium.


Olenivka Prison Camp Massacre, 29 July 2022

Overnight on July 29 2022 an explosion occurred inside the prison where Ukrainian prisoners of war, many having surrendered from the Avostal steel works siege in Mariupol, were being held close to the occupied village of Olenivka in the occupied Donetsk region. As a result of the blast, about 53 soldiers were killed, and another 130 were injured. While the Russians accused Ukraine of shelling the prison camp, according to Ukraine’s Security Services, the Russians carried out what amounts to a terrorist attack by detonating explosives planted on the premises of the prison camp. A request by the UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres to conduct a fact-finding mission into the incident was abandoned, as Russia refused to cooperate with either the UN and International Red Cross.

Execution of Oleksandr Matsievskiy - 30 December 2022

Matsievskiy was a 42-year-old Moldovan-born Ukrainian Ground Forces member who was captured by by Russian soldiers during fighting around Bakhmut in late December 2022. A horrific video showing the execution appeared on social media on March 6 2023. It showed an unarmed soldier, smoking a cigarette, turning towards the camera and saying “Slava Ukraini” (Glory to Ukraine), then being shot with automatic weapons from multiple sides. Initially identified as being another soldier he was eventually identified by the Ukrainian government. In April 2023 a street was named after him in his hometown of Nizhyn, Chernihiv region and a statue of him was unveiled on 25 November 2023 in the same city.


Dnipro residential building airstrike - 14 January, 2023

A wave of Russian missiles struck several regions of Ukraine, including the capital and other cities in throughout Ukraine.  At about 15:30 a Russian Kh-22 missile struck a nine-story residential building in the Soborny district of Dnipro. The strike killed more than 60 civilians, injured 80 and destroyed one entrance and 236 apartments. The destruction left about 400 people homeless and was part of the months-long campaign of Russian strikes against Ukrainian civilians and civilian infrastructure.

Destruction of the Kakhovka Dam – 6 June 2023

The Kakhovka Kakhovka Hydroelectric Power Plant Dam was destroyed by an explosion in the early hours of June 6 2023, flooding a huge area on the right bank of the Dnipro River, threatening 16,000 people, washed away landmines and caused widespread ecological damage, with 1.5 million hectares of agricultural land inundated, contaminated drinking water, needed widescale evacuation, spilled fuel oil into the river, which eventually contaminated parts of the Black Sea. Russia accused Ukraine of destroying the dam, but all evidence indicates that the explosion occurred inside the dam, which was controlled by Russian troops. Tens of thousands of people were injured; the exact number of dead cannot yet be established.


RIA restaurant missile strike, Kramatorsk - 27 June 2023

On Tuesday June 27 2023 at about 19:30, peak dinner time, two Iskander ballistic missiles targeted the RIA pizza restaurant popular with aid workers, journalists, soldiers and teenagers. There were about 80 customers and staff there at that time. Thirteen people were killed, including Ukrainian novelist Victoria Amelina, a 17-year-old girl, a pair of 14-year-old twin sisters, and Ian Tortorici, a US Marine Corps veteran, while 61 were injured in the explosions. Another missile hit a village on the outskirts of Kramatorsk, wounding five more people.

Odesa’s Orthodox Cathedral, 23, July 2023

In the early morning of July 23, 2023 total of 19 missiles of at least five types of missiles: Kalibr, Oniks, Kh-22, Iskander-K and Iskander-M hit the Odesa region, killed three and injured 19, over 40 buildings including 25 architectural monuments and the Orthodox Transfiguration Cathedral, were severely damaged.  A high explosive missile hit the roof of the city’s most important religious building and destroyed the sanctuary i, the area reserved for priests. At the time the cathedral was still nominally aligned with the Moscow Patriarchate, as opposed to the independent Orthodox Church of Ukraine.

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