Russia attacks psychiatric hospital in Ukraine during patient evacuation; Hundreds more under construction left

Russia has attacked a psychiatric hospital in northeastern Ukraine’s Kharkiv region while health workers evacuated patients, Ukrainian officials said.

Medics tried to evacuate the sick when Russia began shelling the hospital in the village of Strilecha, Kharkiv governor Oleh Synyehubov said in a statement published in Telegram on Sunday.

Four medics were killed and two patients injured in the attack, Synyehubov said, citing preliminary data.

Around 30 patients were evacuated but more than 600 remained hospitalized, the official added.

“We extend our deepest condolences and respect. These are heroic deeds! Unfortunately, the Russians stop at nothing – war criminals and terrorists!” Synyehubov said, according to a machine translation of his statement.

Russia carried out 226 attacks on health targets in Ukraine in the first months of its invasion, the World Health Organization (WHO) confirmed in May.

Heavy weapons were used in most of the attacks on Ukrainian health facilities, the organization previously said.

According to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court “[i]Deliberate attacks on … hospitals and collection centers for the sick and wounded, provided they are not military targets”, is considered a war crime in both international and non-international armed conflicts.

“Attacks on health services are a violation of international humanitarian law, but a worryingly common tactic of war – they destroy critical infrastructure, but worse, they destroy hope. They are depriving people who are already at risk of life-or-death care that is not and should never be a target,” said Jarno Habicht, WHO representative in Ukraine.

Russia’s armed forces have repeatedly claimed that the hospitals they destroyed in Ukraine were used for military purposes.

An investigation by German state broadcaster Deutsche Welle into 21 Russian attacks on medical facilities found no evidence that legitimate military targets or combatants were in or in the immediate vicinity of the facilities.

According to Pavlo Kovtonyuk, Ukraine’s former deputy health minister, Russia may be trying to systematically destroy Ukraine’s medical infrastructure.

“The Russians are destroying healthcare here to terrorize citizens and force genocide through migration,” Kovtonyuk was quoted as saying in a report by the Atlantic Council, an American think tank.

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