A Russian missile struck a museum in the center of the eastern Ukrainian city of Kupiansk on Tuesday, April 25, killing two employees, including the museum’s director, and wounding 10 other people, the state emergency service said.
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Elimination of Ukrainian national identity appears to be one of the goals of the Russian aggressors, as has been evidenced by the Russians’ frequent targeting of cultural heritage sites. Since for the Russians, civilian casualties are not a concern, it should be no surprise that they chose to strike the Local Ethnographic Museum in the center of Kupiansk during its opening hours.
Yulia, a local resident, said that the attack occurred shortly before 9 a.m.
“I guess some people were injured or died there. Civilians, not soldiers. There were no weapons there,” she said.
“Yes, [the museum] was open. There were approximately 12 people at the time there. The museum director is still under the rubble. And this was an employee,” said Anatolii Haivoronskyy, a former employee of the museum, looking at the bag containing the body that was already retrieved.
The body of the museum’s director, 55-year-old Iryna Osadcha, was retrieved later.
Kupiansk, which had a pre-war population of 26,000, lies in the Kharkiv Region. It is an important rail hub that was occupied by Russian forces for months after they invaded Ukraine in February 2022.
Ukrainian forces chased them out of Kupiansk in a lightning counteroffensive in September that also recaptured the cities of Izium and Balakliia.
Although the invaders have been expelled, the city is far from being completely safe.
“I said a few days ago on the national news that the situation hasn’t changed, the amount of strikes hasn’t reduced,” said Andrii Knasevych, the Temporary Head of the Kupiansk District Military Administration “And unfortunately, today’s strikes prove that it’s too early to rest, as the front line is eight kilometers [five miles] away from us.”
President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s chief of staff and the regional governor said it was a Russian S-300 missile.
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“The terrorist country is doing everything to destroy us completely: our history, our culture, our people, killing Ukrainians using absolutely barbaric methods,” the President
commented on the attack.
“We have no right to forget about this for a second. We must and will be responsible!” he emphasized.
Russia denies deliberately targeting civilians in its full-scale invasion that has killed thousands of people, uprooted millions, and flattened buildings in cities, towns, and villages across Ukraine.
Russian attacks do not spare institutions of culture and heritage sites, as evidenced by the Tuesday strike. Russians even deliberately target places of worship.