Russian missiles this weekend struck a residential apartment block in the Ukrainian city of Dnipro where 1,700 people reportedly lived and left at least 40 people dead, Ukrainian authorities said. It is the deadliest attack on civilians in the war-torn country in months.
The strike on the civilian building, which injured an additional 75 people, left Ukraine’s emergency services racing to try find 35 people who were still missing among the rubble. By Monday morning, however, the city’s mayor, Borys Filatov, said there were slim chances of finding more survivors.
Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense said that the missile fired by Russia was an X-22 with a warhead weight of 950 kilograms and a maximum range of 600 kilometres. Ukraine, which is calling on western backers to ramp up military aid, does not have the capabilities of shooting down this type of weapon.
The weekend strikes, which also targeted critical infrastructure, came after a two-week respite but highlighted Moscow’s intentions of demoralising Ukraine during winter.
But as the war drags on, Ukrainian officials are gaining momentum in documenting the ever-growing list of war crimes – including sexual violence being used by Russia as “a weapon of war” – with the help of journalists and international organizations.
Russia is using sexual violence as a weapon of war
In the de-occupied Ukrainian territories that Russia previously held, investigators are gathering evidence of the widespread use of sexual violence as a weapon of war by Moscow’s forces. Anna Sosonska, an investigator with the prosecutor general’s office, told the NYT that they “are finding this problem of sexual violence in every place that Russia occupied.”
Among the types of sexual violence recorded are rape, forced nudity, and sexual torture, and have been inflicted on men, women, and even children. “Now we see there is a line of war crimes in the Russian Army and among Russian commanders,” Sosonska said.
While Russian officials have denied the allegations, investigations into the widespread use of sexual violence are gathering steam.
- You can read the NYT article, here
The Russians trained to operate Iran’s Shahed drones
Journalists at Slidstvo.info and Nashi Groshi, Lviv, have conducted an investigation in which they’ve identified and named four Russian military personnel who are allegedly involved in launching Iranian Shahed drones, which have been used in recent months to attack Ukraine’s critical energy structure.
In August last year, Russia took part in Iran’s annual army competition called “Falcon Hunting,” which is possibly where Russians received training on how to operate the kamikaze Shahed drones.
The journalists recreated the entire cycle of training for Russian military unmanned aircraft, and analyzed and compared the events in Iran and Russia.
- You can watch the video, here
Who launched the missile that struck a residential building in Dnipro?
On a Ukrainian holiday, a Russian missile struck a nine-story building which demolished the entire entrance, trapping dozens of people under the rubble as it destroyed the homes and lives of hundreds of people. The attack hit a district of Dnipro city with no military links or facilities, Ukrainian officials have said, and that the missile launch likely targeted civilians.
Intelligence analysts at the Molfar OSINT unit have conducted an investigation and identified 44 Russian military personnel who they say played a role in conducting the attacks on civilians. Investigative journalists also managed to establish that it is the same aviation regiment that allegedly shelled the Amstor shopping center in Kremenchuk last June.
- You can read the full piece, here
Systematic torture of civilians revealed after Russian retreat
When Ukraine’s armed forces liberated the towns and villages of the Kharkiv region the joy in some cases was quickly supplanted by anger and sadness. In the wake of Russia’s retreat, the extent of war crimes it had committed in the region started to become apparent: traces of widespread torture, ill-treatment of locals, and illegal detention have been reported there.
Bihus.info visited some of the torture chaambers and talked to the survivors. “The occupants were beasts,” a resident from Izium told the journalists. “My son was going to the market with his daughter-in-law, (and) they took them to the yard, beat him to death, and raped her.”
A former ATO soldier says he was captured and then tortured daily. “I was tortured with electricity … (which) burned my skin and hair,” he said. The man did not show his face because he is afraid his torturers will return.
- You can watch the video, here
Despite being held in a torture chamber, a Kherson resident refused to cooperate
When the city of Kherson was liberated from Russian forces, Ukraine’s Security Service discovered torture chambers and hundreds of graves spread across the city. Journalists at The Insider told them how Russian soldiers abducted and tortured people, and sowed terror by issuing death threats to locals.
Before Russia’s full-scale invasion last February, Olha Kuts worked as a teacher at a music school, but then the Russian troops rolled into Kherson, and life as she knew it stopped, she said. As the Russian occupiers began to impose their views on people, Olya tried to counter this by launching a social media channel on Tik Tok. Her actions quickly attracted the attention of Russian forces – who detained her and her husband in a torture chamber.
“My husband was electrocuted, his teeth were sawed out and his ribs were broken,” Kuts told The Insider. Despite their ordeal, Kuts refused to cooperate.
- You can read the story of how she survived the occupation, here
Edited by Stephen McGrath
Photo source: Instagram/ Gerry Hofstetter