On the afternoon of Friday 14 April, eight surface-to-air S-300 missiles struck the Ukrainian city of Sloviansk, in Donetsk. 15 civilians were killed, and 24 injured in the attack. The strikes demolished a five-story apartment building, and the rescue operation mounted to save people from the rubble lasted three days.
Overall, since the start of Russia’s invasion, AOAV has recorded 2,352 incidents of Russian explosive weapon use in Ukraine. Russian explosive weapons have caused at least 11,240 civilian casualties, of which 3,820 have been killed and 7,420 injured.
89% (2,105) of recorded incidents of Russian explosive violence in Ukraine have occurred in populated areas – areas where civilians have accounted for 99% (10,691) of the resulting casualties.
The worst affected locations for civilian harm from Russian explosive weapons are areas coded as’ multiple urban’ locations, where many urban environments are damaged in a single incident. AOAV has recorded 609 incidents of Russian explosive weapons striking ‘multiple urban’ locations, and 4,236 resulting civilian casualties. However, the majority of incidents, 46% (1,076) have been recorded in urban residential areas in towns and cities across Ukraine.
Over Easter weekend, AOAV further recorded two Russian strikes on churches in Ukraine. On Sunday 16 April, a civilian was injured in a Russian S-300 missile strike on a church in Kushuhum, Zaporizhzhia, and on the same day, a man and woman were injured when Russian forces fired artillery shells at a church in Nikopol, Dnipropetrovsk. In both cases, the churches were severely damaged.
Donetsk is by far the worst affected region, accounting for 36% (4,069) of civilian casualties from Russian explosive weapons since 24 February 2022.
S-300 missiles are a family of Russian-made long-range surface-to-air missile (SAM) systems used predominantly for air defense against manned and unmanned aircraft. Russia has reportedly increased its use of air defense missiles in a secondary ground attack mode because of critical shortages of dedicated ground-attack missiles. There is consequently a high chance of these weapons missing their intended targets and causing widespread civilian casualties, as the missiles are not optimized for this role.
AOAV’s casualty figures represent the lowest of estimations in terms of the number of people killed and injured by explosive weapon use. In an effort to quantify the explicit harm caused by specific explosive weapons, AOAV solely records incident-specific casualty figures, as reported in English-language media.
AOAV condemns the use of violence against civilians and the use of explosive weapons in populated areas. All actors should stop using explosive weapons with wide-area effects where there is likely to be a high concentration of civilians.
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