Final month, Dmytro Kuzubov placed on his headphones and walked round Kharkiv for hours. He felt that the struggle would begin quickly and he wished to go to a few of his favourite locations. Kharkiv is his hometown: a vibrant, youthful metropolis of almost 1.5 million individuals steeped in academia, artwork and literature.
The assaults began a number of days later. Unable to take management of the town, Russia has resorted to destroying it. As in Syria and Chechnya, Russia goals to demoralize the town’s inhabitants with overwhelming and indiscriminate firepower. It’s following an analogous plan in different Ukrainian cities, resembling Mariupol and Mykolaiv.
“Probably the most horrible factor was the whistle of jets. I’ll keep in mind all of them my life,” mentioned Mr. Kuzubov, who has since fled Kharkiv, together with lots of of hundreds of others.
This was a kindergarten classroom.
This was any individual’s front room.
Pavel Dorogoy/Related Press
And this was the location of the Previous Hem, a well-liked pub within the constructing’s basement, the place a statue of Ernest Hemingway greeted patrons out entrance.
“It was one in every of my favourite locations. A number of stuff occurred there — screaming, fights, ingesting, humorous songs,” mentioned Alex Sedov, a third-generation Kharkivite. “It was a terrific place, and I’m very unhappy it’s gone.”
Russia has attacked Kharkiv with artillery, rockets, cluster munitions and guided missiles on a minimum of 13 totally different days, a relentless barrage, currently concentrating on the town at night time. Most Kharkiv residents are Russian audio system, and plenty of are ethnic Russians.
No less than 500 civilians have been killed, in line with the town’s emergency companies company. The true quantity is probably going greater, and rescue employees proceed to dig via the rubble.
Supply: East View Geospatial (base map knowledge)
“Kharkiv isn’t but utterly destroyed, however we hear fixed shelling, fixed bombing,” mentioned Natalka Zubar, a 57-year-old I.T. skilled who has remained within the metropolis. “It’s a spot of fixed airborne terror.”
Town is filled with historic monuments, residence to 24 universities and a few 200,000 college students and professors, Ms. Zubar mentioned. The principle Kharkiv Nationwide College constructing nonetheless stands however has been broken from close by explosions.
Home windows of one of many foremost college buildings have been blown out.
The economics division was hit straight.
And the college fitness center was destroyed.
“You’ll see so many younger individuals on the streets; it gave the town this type of energetic, vibrant feeling due to the youth,” mentioned Maria Avdeeva, a disinformation and safety professional. “Think about tomorrow, life goes again to regular in Kharkiv. The place will they stay? The place will they go to school?”
For Ms. Avdeeva and different lifelong residents, the annihilation of the town is meaningless. She stays in Kharkiv, documenting its destruction. Final weekend she walked round in quest of shops nonetheless promoting meals.
“It was Saturday, often you’ll assume: Go to a store, go to a restaurant. What a Saturday must be like,” she mentioned. “It’s nothing of that sort now.”
On March 1, a rocket struck straight in entrance of the Kharkiv regional administration constructing, an imposing construction within the metropolis’s foremost sq. that flew the Ukrainian flag from its roof. The training division, the finance division — “virtually every thing which is related to the functioning of the Kharkiv area” — had places of work on this constructing, Ms. Avdeeva mentioned.
The constructing isn’t solely necessary, it’s significant, too.
“It’s the image of Kharkiv, and everybody who’s coming to Kharkiv takes photos right here. There isn’t a means you may come to Kharkiv and never discover this constructing,” mentioned Ms. Avdeeva.
The adjoining sq. was additionally closely broken within the strike. Initially named after the founding father of the Soviet secret police, the sq. was renamed Freedom Sq. after Ukraine gained independence in 1991.
“They’re destroying our historic heritage and our architectural heritage. They need to destroy all of it, they need to demoralize individuals,” Mr. Kuzubov mentioned.
Every week earlier than the invasion, Mr. Kuzubov and his associates went to see the film “Rhino” by Oleh Sentsov, a Ukrainian filmmaker, on the newly opened Nikolsky Mall.
At round 10:30 p.m. on March 9, a rocket crashed via the roof, leaving shattered glass and particles all over the place inside.
That is the mall now.
This was a tram depot.
Sergey Bobok/Agence France-Presse — Getty Pictures
This was a college.
A few of Russia’s strikes within the opening days of the invasion have been aimed toward navy targets. Since then, they’ve been indiscriminate. A whole lot of residence buildings have been hit, together with this one in Saltivka, a residential neighborhood on the outskirts of Kharkiv.
“They’re maximizing the fear. They’re shelling or bombing random objects now,” mentioned Ms. Zubar. “However we might somewhat die combating for the town than go away.”