The Destruction of Hospitals in Kharkiv by Russia’s Shelling and Air Strikes

By Serhiy Petrov and Nataliya Zubar. 

Kharkiv, Ukraine. May 2, 2022. Many people have asked us why there are no hospitals on the list of targets in our first analysis of Russia’s crimes against civilian infrastructure. We can now answer this question.

We did suspect that hospitals would appear on our list, but we did not have enough data to precisely define the common damage and destruction of medical facilities. We had problems documenting the destruction of hospitals, because their staff were afraid that publishing details about the destruction would help the enemy adjust their aim and increase targeted shelling of medical institutions. This is why camera crews haven’t been allowed inside hospitals.

Are these fears justified? We conclude that they are.

Here, we will show you some partially destroyed medical facilities without referencing their names and locations in order to illustrate the problem. We have captured every case of hospital destruction below in photos and on video. Each case is involved in criminal proceedings.

1. A large medical complex located in a heavily shelled area of ​​Kharkiv

The first and second rounds of shelling of this medical facility, which left funnels in the ground on its territory, left many windows broken and communications and electrical infrastructure damaged.

According to hospital personnel, windows in an operating room where an emergency surgery was being carried out were broken in the second round of shelling, causing people inside to suffer injuries from broken glass.

The third round of shelling hit and pierced the roof, causing the concrete slabs of the roof and the mechanical floor to shift.

Mechanical floor of the hospital building. The opening in the roof is visible.

As a result of the air strike, the concrete slabs were shifted, leading to flooding of the mechanical floor by rainwater.

This is a fragment of the projectile that ruined the roof.

Repairing concrete slabs in the current conditions of constant shelling is impossible. The effect of the destruction is exacerbated by repeated shelling and weather conditions.

By the time of publication, the medical complex had been hit four times, the last attack destroying a portion of a wall.

But the medical establishment remains operational.

2. A hospital in the city center

First, in March, most of the hospital’s windows were smashed by a blast wave from the bombing of neighboring office buildings.

Then, in April, a big portion of the hospital’s roof was destroyed by targeted shelling.

Inside one of the hospital’s bathrooms

Inside one of the hospital’s bathrooms

The roof has already been repaired; these are parts of the destroyed roof.

The X-ray machine was damaged with a building fragment. The device’s condition is currently unknown, because there is no one available who can assess it.

The hospital is closed.

3. A hospital in the city center

This hospital was hit once. There are three large funnels on its territory. A huge amount of windows have been shattered. The ambulance ramp has been damaged.

The facility continues operating but in limited capacity.

4. A medical establishment on the outskirts of the city

This site was attacked by multiple-rocket launchers in the first days of the war in Kharkiv. A large number of windows were broken. Due to the threat of further shelling, the establishment is forced to significantly reduce patient care.

5. A medical establishment on the outskirts of the city

This site was also attacked by multiple-rocket launchers in the early days of the war. The shelling itself did not cause significant damage to the hospital, but one of the missiles hit the playground near one of the hospital buildings.

Signs of shelling and broken gates can be seen at the hospital entrance.

6. A medical establishment in a historic 19th century building

The photo above shows the roof of another hospital, which was open when a Russian rocket struck it. The roof burned down completely as a result of the shelling. We have fully documented this site. (Added on May 5, 2022)

7. An ambulatory clinic in Pyatykhatky

The ambulatory clinic in Kharkiv’s Pyatykhatky neighborhood was destroyed. There’s significant damage to the building’s exterior and interior, including destroyed walls and stairs, broken windows and doors, and a lot of broken glass. The roof of one of the building’s wings was destroyed by a direct hit.

Documented on April 7, 2022 by Natalia Zubar.
Kurchatova Street, 29. Kharkiv, Ukraine.

(Added May 11, 2022)

Based on what we have seen, it can be concluded that the Russian Federation is targeting medical facilities. We can also attest that they are specifically targeting maternity hospitals. (One hospital of this type was systematically shelled, while other hospitals nearby had not been significantly damaged at the time of publication.)

The deliberate destruction of medical establishments is nothing more than part of an urbicide policy, whose goal is making the area uninhabitable and thus stagnant through the destruction of healthcare facilities.

Photos and analysis by Serhiy Petrov and Nataliya Zubar

The photography and analysis were carried out as part of a formal effort to document the damage and destruction of Kharkiv’s civilian infrastructure.

The photographs are distributed under the terms of the free license CC BY-SA 4.0.