war crimes in Ukraine

The Tribunal for Putin (T4P) global initiative was set up in response to the all-out war launched by Russia against Ukraine in February 2022.

Huge number feared killed after Russians bomb a school in Luhansk oblast where around 90 civilians had sought shelter

Halya Coynash
(Update) Initial rescue work after the Russian airstrike on the village school in Bilohorivka had to be postponed because of the likelihood of a new Russian attack

School in the village of Bilohorivka, Luhansk oblast, where about 90 people were sheltering (they thought) from bombs like that which the Russians dropped on the school. Photo Serhiy Haidai

Luhansk Regional Governor Serhiy Haidai reported early on 8 May that only 27 people were rescued after a Russian airstrike on the village school in Bilohorivka (Luhansk oblast) in which around 90 residents were trying to shelter from the Russian bombing.  It is feared that the others were killed.  Rescuers could not work at night due to the likelihood of a new Russian attack.

Haidai first reported this new attack on civilians late on 7 May, explaining that Bilohorivka, which is near Lysychansk, is a hot spot, where the orcs (as Ukrainians increasingly call the Russian invaders) have been trying to break through the Ukrainian defence.  He wrote then that on 7 May the Russian killers ‘fought’ with unarmed peaceful residents, dropping a bomb on a school where virtually all of the remaining residents of the village were sheltering.  The school’s basement was the only possible hiding place after the Russians bombed the village club, “but the Russians have deprived the people of this chance also.”

The bombing caused a fire covering 300 square metres which was only put out after 8 p.m.  The fact that rescue work had to be postponed because of the likelihood of more bombs may have increased the death toll, but even the initial images of the damage following the Russian airstrike made it difficult to see how people could have survived.

Nor were these the only civilians whom the Russian invaders killed in the Luhansk oblast on 7 May.  In Pryvillya, Grad missiles  killed two children, aged 11 and 14, with two others, aged 12 and 8, as well a 69-year-old woman, injured.   Haidai reported that the police were on the scene and that there could prove to have been more fatalities.  He reiterated the plea he has been issuing for weeks, that civilians leave the Luhansk oblast while they can, and leave the Ukrainian Armed Forces to fight the invaders.  ‘The russian world’ takes the life of our Future – our children.  Evacuate!  Take care of your children!  What are you waiting for?”

As have other regional governors, Haidai especially warns those who do remain of vigilance over the coming days.  He says that the Russian military will try to achieve ‘something’ in order to be able to report [‘success’] to Putler (i.e. Russian leader Vladimir Putin).  Be wary in particular on 9 May, he says, try to stay in shelters and avoid going out onto the street.

The Kremlin and Russian military appear to have planned for a swift seizure of Kyiv and change of regime.  That did not happen, nor, in fact, has Russia made anything like the ‘progress’ that they intended, and Putin is, indeed, likely to want something that he can claim as a ‘victory’ after over two months of savage bombing and killing.  A lot of this, like the relentless bombing of civilian targets in Kharkiv, Odesa and other cities, would appear to be about instilling terror and destruction.  It does often feel as though the savage attacks on civilians escalate when Russia fails to make military advances.  Anatoly Fedoruk, Mayor of Bucha, has suggested, for example, that the indiscriminate killings in his city began after the Russians understood that they could not seize Kyiv.

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