AOAV: all our reportsExplosive violence in UkraineExplosive violence researchExplosive violence by the Russian armed forces

Ukraine: 18 civilians killed and 78 injured in Russian missile strike on Chernihiv

At around 9am on Wednesday 17th April, several Russian missiles struck an eight-storey building in the densely populated city centre of Chernihiv, which is located 100 km (60m) from the Russian border.

At the conclusion of the search and rescue operation at 9:15am local time on 18th April, 18 civilians had been killed and 78, including four children, had been injured in the strike. Among the fatalities is 25-year old police lieutenant Alina Mykolayets.

The strike damaged several floors of the building, as well as another four-high rise buildings, civilian and social infrastructure facilities, a hospital, an education institution and dozens of cars. 

Since 24 February 2022, AOAV has recorded at least 820 children among the 21,472 civilians killed and injured by explosive weapons in Ukraine. Urban residential locations, like the one hit in Chernihiv on Wednesday, are the worst impacted locations for child casualties of explosive violence, accounting for 50% (412) of children harmed since the invasion. Other impacted locations are multiple urban areas (156 casualties reported as children), and villages (138). 

Overall, urban residential locations have been the most impacted locations since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022. Of the 5,424 incidents of explosive weapons use AOAV has recorded within that time, 45% (2,462) took place in urban residential. These locations account for 36% (7,777) of all 21,472 civilian casualties, and 36% (2,194) of all civilian fatalities since then. Other impacted locations include multiple urban areas (6,415 civilian casualties), and villages (2,211).

Last year, civilian harm from explosive weapons use in Ukraine fell compared to 2022. 2023 saw a 49% increase in recorded incidents of explosive weapons use in the country, with 2,755 incidents compared to 1,854 in 2022, alongside a 19% decrease in reported civilian casualties. 2022 saw 10,351 civilians reported harmed in Ukraine (3,672 killed), while AOAV recorded 8,351 civilian casualties last year (1,774 killed).

This could reflect a multitude of factors, including the evacuation and migration of civilians away from conflict zones, or reporting fatigue, which would result in less of the granular reporting on which AOAV’s methodology relies.

State actors were responsible for the majority, 98% (2,708), of explosive weapons use in Ukraine in 2023, with the Russian armed forces accounting for 92% (2,544) of reported incidents and 91% (7,621) of civilian casualties. The Ukrainian armed forces were the reported perpetrators of 4% (111) of recorded explosive violence incidents and 7% (599) of civilian casualties. AOAV writes: “with the reported use of explosive weapons by both states party to the conflict increasing significantly, the mutual unwillingness to engage in negotiations reflects the likelihood of ongoing hostilities.”

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.