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‘People who did nothing wrong’: The toll of Russian strikes on civilian targets in Ukraine

Russia denies it targets civilians. But international monitors say tens of thousands of civilians have been killed in the past 18 months. Here's a look at some of the attacks that have appeared to target civilians, leaving scores of Ukrainians dead.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights says more than 26,000 civilians have been killed or wounded in war

A woman in a wool coat holds her glasses and wipes her eyes as she cries

Wednesday's attack by Russia on a market in eastern Ukraine is the latest example of the toll the war is taking on civilians. The Ukrainian Defence Ministry said the market was hit by a ballistic missile. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called it "a deliberate attack" and said a child was among the dead.

As of the end of August, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights recorded 26,717 civilian casualties in Ukraine, including 9,511 people who were killed and 17,206 who were injured.

There have been more attacks on civilians since then, including the market attack, in which at least 17 people were killed.

Russia denies it targets civilians. But international monitors say tens of thousands of civilians have been killed in the past 18 months.

In March, a UN-backed inquiry concluded that "Russian authorities have committed numerous violations of international humanitarian law and violations of international human rights law, in addition to a wide range of war crimes, including the war crime of excessive incidental death, injury, or damage, wilful killings, torture, inhuman treatment, unlawful confinement, rape, as well as unlawful transfers and deportations."

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has already opened investigations into some of the attacks and in March issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin in connection to the unlawful deportation of children from Ukraine to Russia.


Here is a small sample of some of the attacks on civilians since the war began on Feb. 24, 2022.

Siege of Mariupol

In March 2022, Russia attacked Mariupol, a city of nearly 450,000 people on the Sea of Azov in the Donetsk region. A theatre where about 600 people were sheltering and a maternity and children's hospital were both hit by missile strikes.

The mayor said more than 10,000 people in his city were killed over the next six weeks. The United Nations said it confirmed 1,348 civilian deaths but that the actual number was likely much higher.

Other estimates have put the number of civilian deaths as high as 25,000.

Bread line

In March 2022, at least 17 people were killed while waiting in a line for bread in Cherniv, according to Human Rights Watch.

WATCH | Killed while queuing for bread (warning: contains graphic images):

Russia condemned for civilian casualties in Ukraine

1 year ago

Duration 3:43

Western nations have condemned Russia for its continued attacks on Ukrainian civilians, most recently attacks on a theatre-turned-shelter in Mariupol and a bread line in northern Ukraine, which killed at least 10 people.

Hospitals and schools

Both hospitals and schools have come under fire in the past 18 months, the latter often when people have been using them as shelters.

In May 2022, a school in the village of Bilohorivka in the Donbas region was bombed. Nearly 100 people were sheltering in it at the time.

Flames and smoke rise from a destroyed building, with just one wall still standing

Ukraine has accused Russia of targeting both a general hospital and a psychiatric hospital in Izyum.

A man in a white coat stands with his head bowed in a destroyed building

A man on crutches walks by the remnants of a destroyed building

Train stations

Train stations and trains carrying people trying to flee certain areas have been hit on multiple occasions.

In April 2022, a missile hit a train station in Kramatorsk, killing at least 50 people.

"It is generally known that these stations are filled with innocent people — with women, children, grandparents that are trying to leave," said Nate Mook, CEO of the humanitarian organization World Central Kitchen, which was distributing food in Kramatorsk and other affected areas in eastern Europe at the time.

Man speaking on a phone with his arm around a person wearing a blue hoodie, sitting on a railing

As It Happens8:10'It was catastrophic,' relief worker says of the Ukraine train station missile strike

In August 2022, a missile strike hit a train station and passenger train in Chaplyne.

"Chaplyne is our pain today. As of this moment there are 22 dead," Zelenskyy said in a video address that evening.

"Russia's missile strike on a train station full of civilians in Ukraine fits a pattern of atrocities. We will continue, together with partners from around the world, to stand with Ukraine and seek accountability for Russian officials," U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said at the time on Twitter.

Apartment blocks

There have been several attacks on residential buildings across Ukraine since the beginning of the war, with buildings in some cities coming under fire multiple times. That's been the case in Dnipro, including when an apartment block housing some 1,700 people was hit by a Russian missile strike in January.

At least 45 people were confirmed killed before the search for survivors was ended. The dead included six children, and another 79 people were injured, according to Zelenskyy.

He called for the ICC to investigate.

WATCH | Hitting people were they live:

Apartment block in Dnipro, Ukraine, flattened in missile attack

8 months ago

Duration 0:55

Multiple people were killed and dozens of others were injured after Russia unleashed a major missile attack on Ukraine on Saturday, including destroying a nine-storey apartment block in the city of Dnipro.

Overnight missile attacks in the city of Uman in April killed dozens of people as they slept. Officials said two cruise missiles hit a nine-storey building. Emergency personnel said the dead included children and a 75-year-old woman.

The insides of an apartment are exposed after being hit with a missile

Shopping malls/markets

Shopping areas have also been the scene of civilian casualties in Ukraine.

Officials said more than 1,000 people were inside a shopping mall in Kremenchuk when it was hit by a Russian missile strike in June 2022. At least 13 people were killed and dozens wounded. At the time, Zelenskyy said, "This is not an accidental hit; this is a calculated Russian strike exactly onto this shopping centre."

WATCH | An inferno envelops a shoppping mall:

Russian missiles hit Ukraine mall

1 year ago

Duration 2:22

Russian missile attacks have hit another civilian target in Ukraine, a shopping mall far from the front lines. Ukrainian officials say the attack was meant to terrorize its population and pressure its allies.

In May, people doing their groceries came under attack as Russian shells hit a hypermarket in Kherson, along with another railway station and more residential buildings.

Zelenskyy described the targets as "the bloody trail that Russia leaves behind with its shells."

Four months later, his observation following Wednesday's attack on the open market in Kostiantynivka echoed that sentiment: "A regular market. Shops. A pharmacy. People who did nothing wrong."

With files from The Associated Press and Reuters

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