Let’s Save the Children of Kharkiv from Daily Shelling by Russian Bombs

Before the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Kharkiv was the second most populated city in Ukraine, with about 1.4 million officially registered people and 2 million Ukrainians actually living in it. Kharkiv is located just 30-40 km from the Russian-Ukrainian border, and is subject to daily air attacks by Russian cruise and ballistic missiles, kamikaze drones and guided aerial bombs. Civilians, including children, are suffering from the Kremlin’s genocidal war.

Since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, 546 children have been killed and more than 1,330 children have been injured. Most of the victims were in Donetsk (530), Kharkiv (365), Kherson (150), Dnipropetrovsk (137), Kyiv (130), Zaporizhzhia (108), Mykolaiv (104) regions. These figures are constantly changing, since fighting continues in many regions and occupied territories.
Let us recall one of the latest Russians’ crime attack against the residents of Kharkiv. On May 8, the Russian army shelled one of the city’s districts, hitting the territory of the school’s stadium. As a result of the attack, seven civilians (four children, two women and a man) were injured. During the morning attack on Kharkiv, the Russians deliberately hit children! The Russian missile “arrived” at a school stadium in the Saltivka microdistrict. As a result, teenagers were injured, they were operated on and are in intensive care, fighting for their lives; one of the schoolchildren had his leg amputated. Do children want to live in the 21st century, suffering and dying from Russian bombs?

Despite the very difficult situation in the city, children are children… They want to learn, have fun, and live. In the coming days, the first subterranean school for 620 children will open in Kharkiv (education in regular schools is not allowed due to the dangerous situation in the city). This will be the first underground school in Ukraine. The school is located at a depth of 6 meters and is a de facto bunker. “Given that the number of people wishing to study full-time now significantly exceeds the number of available places in one such safe school, we hope to have time to build at least three more in other areas of the city,” the mayor of Kharkiv, Igor Terekhov said. In war, when education is limited, underground schools can be a key element in securing the future of a nation.

The time for graduation ceremony is coming, and the children of Kharkiv do want to celebrate this occasion. But, since the city is under daily shelling by Russian troops, future graduates are forced to rehearse simply in the middle of the street, early in the morning, at 5-30 in the morning, while there are no cars or shelling. This is how Kharkiv graduates prepare for their graduation party (photographer Yan Dobronosov).

The Kharkiv region is one of the regions of Ukraine most affected as a result of Russian aggression. Thus, almost all energy infrastructure was destroyed, which cannot be quickly restored. Today, despite shelling and power outages, more than a million residents remain in the city.
The fact of the presence of a Russian-speaking population in the city doesn’t make Vladimir Putin more merciful. Instead, Putin considers the Russian-speaking Kharkiv his property and is convinced that he can do whatever he wants with it. Kharkiv as the “second capital” of Ukraine has a symbolic meaning for the Kremlin. The aggressor wants revenge for its fail to capture Kharkiv in 2022, being forced to withdraw its troops from most of the Kharkov region.
Russian propaganda is trying to present the intensification of terror in the Kharkiv region as “revenge” for the military actions of Russian volunteers in the Kursk and Belgorod regions of the Russian Federation, as well as for the terrorist attack in Crocus City Hall, accusing Ukraine.
In March of this year, Putin first used the term “sanitary zone” towards the Kharkiv region bordering Russia. This term is used to refer the uninhabitable areas as a result of man-made or natural disasters, that is one of the Russians’ goals. According to the Kremlin, the city’s geographical proximity to the Russian border greatly simplifies the task of committing genocide of civilians. Putin’s impunity encourages him to commit war crimes, which may extend beyond the borders of Ukraine, since Russian threats have been heard many times towards Ukraine’s European allies.
The security of the Kharkiv region can be guaranteed by additional air defense systems and the creation of a demilitarized zone on Russian territory. Western air defense systems are capable of shooting down almost all types of Russian missiles that the enemy uses against Ukraine. Thanks to them, tens, or even hundreds of thousands of lives have already been saved.
In order to save Kharkiv and other border cities of Ukraine from complete destruction by daily shelling of Russian troops, the member states of the “Ramstein coalition” should transfer to the Ukrainian army modern air/missile defense systems as soon as possible, which can neutralize ballistic and hypersonic missiles. In addition, in order to destroy Russian missile launchers, drone launch sites and runways for tactical and bomber aircraft , it is necessary to allow the Ukrainian Armed Forces using Western weapons against the internationally recognized territory of the Russian Federation (currently Kyiv’s Western allies allow the use of their weapons only on the territory of Crimea and four regions of Ukraine, which the Kremlin annexed in 2022).