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Update on Ukraine War – Evidence shows Widespread use of cluster munitions in Kharkiv

Evidence shows widespread use of cluster munitions in Kharkiv
Evidence shows widespread use of cluster munitions in Kharkiv
Distinctive marks from a cluster munition in the roof of a car next to a playground in Kharkiv
Distinctive marks from a cluster munition on the roof of a car next to a playground in Kharkiv

According to new data from Amnesty international, Russia has killed hundreds of civilians in the northeastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv by employing indiscriminate shelling and internationally banned cluster munitions;Update on Ukraine War – Evidence shows Widespread use of cluster munitions in Kharkiv

Amnesty International said it had discovered evidence that Russian forces had used 9N210/9N235 cluster bombs as well as “scatterable” munitions, which are rockets that ejects smaller mines that explode at predetermined intervals. 

The evidence was seen as a distinctive, symmetrical spalling effect associated with cluster munitions at five different impact sites in Kharkiv’s residential neighborhoods. Images from the site were presented, and they all agreed that the hits were compatible with the controversial weapons. 

“Those effects are from cluster munitions, it’s a classic signature,” said Mark Hizney, a senior researcher at Human Rights Watch’s, a campaign program. “you can now see a remnant of a stabilizer fin from one of the submunitions in one submunition,” he added. 

According to Hamish de Bretton Gordon, a former British Army colonel and Cambridge University weapon expert, CCTV footage from one of the sites showed successive clustered denotations – “a very strong indicator of submunitions from a cluster weapon.”

Cluster munitions are controversial because they denote in the air, releasing a cluster of smaller bombs that fall indiscriminately over a large area, posing a risk to civilians. 

Smaller bombs also frequently fail to detonate on impact, creating a threat for long-term threat. A convention forbidding the use of weapons has been ratified by more than 120 countries, however, neither Russia nor Ukraine are signatories. 

The spalling effects were visible around the discrete impacts on three sides of a playground at the site of one apparent cluster munition strike in Kharkiv, near a housing complex and playground in the industrainiyi neighborhood. 

Oksana Litvynyenko, Ivan Litvynyenko’s wife, was severely injured in the strike and later died. 

The couple was going through the playground with their five-year-old daughter when the explosive hit, according to Litvynyenko, 40. Their 14-years-old son was there in their home. 

“All of a sudden, there was a flash and the first explosion,” Litvynenko said. “I snatched my daughter and pressed her to a tree. My wife was around five meters distant when she fell.”

An impact site next to a playground where Ivan Litvynyenko's wife was hit by shrapnel.
An impact site next to a playground where Ivan Litvynyenko’s wife was hit by shrapnel.

Oksana, 41, was hit was shrapnel that penetrated her back, chest, and abdomen, puncturing her lungs and damaging her spine. 

She remained in intensive care for two months before dying on Sunday as a result of complications from her injuries and diabetes, said Litvynyenko. “Doctors operated on her multiple times, but her body could not survive it,” he said, speaking just hours after her death. 

Litvynyenko described the hit as a “series of blasts, lots of bombs one after another.” Two more residents who were inside their flats at the time of the hit said that they heard successive denotations. “For Over several minutes, you could hear explosions,” Danya Volynets, 26, added. “I could see the burning cars when we went outdoors.” Everything appeared to be on fire.”

When the explosive hit, Tetiana Ahayeva, a 53-year-old nurse, was standing in front of her building. She told Amnesty Internation, “There was a sudden sound of firecrackers everywhere, lots of them, all over.” “We knelt on the ground and looked for shelter. Artem Shevchenko, our next-door neighbor’s 16-year-old son, was slain on the spot. He had a hole 1cm wide in his chest. His father has a shattered hip and a shrapnel wound in his leg.”

Oksana Litvynyenko with her daughter. Oksana was badly wounded in April and died on Sunday. (Family handout)
Oksana Litvynyenko with her daughter. Oksana was badly wounded in April and died on Sunday. (Family handout)

Doctors at a central Kharkiv hospital started detected penetrating wounds to the abdomen, chest, and back among the victims brought in after the playground attack, and they collected metal fragments that matched the typ[es of pellets seen in 9N210/9N235 cluster munitions. According to Amnesty, the hit on the idustrialnyi neighborhood killed at least nine individuals and injured 35 others, destroying 700 square meters of land. 

A munition landed in the entranceway of another residential building in Kharkiv’s Haribaldi Street district, killing two elderly women and seriously injuring another. Around the entryway and the adjoining path, the telltale spalling effect could be seen. 

Tetiana Belova and Olena Sorokina had been sitting on a bench outside when a munition detonated nearby. They rose up to enter the building, but a second munition hit directly in the entranceway, killing Bielova and another woman with them, Tetiana. In the blast, Sorokina lost both her legs. 

“There were a series of explosions one after another,” said resident Nadia Kravchuk, a 61, who was in the at the time. “I came out and saw a woman lying face down next to another woman, as well as Lena, who had lost both of her legs, ‘I have lost my legs,’ she cried out.” 

Nadia Kravchuk looks down at damage from a munition that killed two of her neighbours
Nadia Kravchuk looks down at damage from a munition that killed two of her neighbours

Over the course of two weeks of field investigation, Amnesty studied 41 attacks in Kharkiv, resulting in the deaths of at least 62 civilians and the injuries of 196 others, the charity said. Cluster munition and unguided missiles were revealed to have killed civilians who were out shopping, queuing for food supplies, or simply walking along the street

“These weapons should never be used.” Amnesty’s senior crisis response advisor Donatella Rovera told the BBC. “They’re hard to pin down. They’re meant to be used in specific areas. And they have a devastating effect, killing and injuring a large number of civilians.”

The use of the firearms amounted to “deliberated targeting civilians,” Rovera said, “Russia cannot claim that it is unaware of the effects of these weapons,” she stated. “And the decision to use them shows absolute disregard for civilian life.”

Russia has repeatedly denied employing cluster munitions in Ukraine, claiming that its forces solely target military objectives. 

 

Avatar of Mercy Isidore

Written by Mercy Isidore

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