Russian missile strikes in Kyiv killed 19 people and damaged a host of cultural institutions. (via Ministry of Culture and Information Policy of Ukraine on Twitter)

In the first large-scale attack on Kyiv since the start of the war, Russian missiles killed 19 people and damaged a host of cultural sites this Monday, October 10, including at least seven museums. Ukraine’s Defense Minster Oleksii Reznikov called the strikes, which targeted power plants and civilian areas, “war crimes.”

Bombarded civilian areas include what used to be a historic tourist district in Kyiv. A missile killed several people when it hit a road near Taras Shevchenko National University’s science library, and another one hit a nearby children’s playground in Shevchenko Park, close to the Khanenko Museum.

A strike near Taras Shevchenko National University caused interior damage.

In a Facebook post, Ukrainian Minster of Culture Oleksandr Tkachenko detailed the destruction of Kyiv’s cultural sites. The Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv and the National Academy of Sciences sustained damage, as did the city’s National Philharmonic, Pedagogical Museum of Ukraine, and Museum of the Ukrainian Revolution of 1917-21. The strike also broke windows at the Khanenko Museum, the Kyiv Picture Gallery, the National Research and Restoration Center, the Museum-Apartment of Mykola Platonovych Bazhan and Pavlo Tychyna, and the Kyiv History Museum. Tkachenko also listed damage to 19th-century residential buildings.

Windows were damaged at the Khanenko Museum, but its staff and collection were unharmed.

In a statement, the Khanenko Museum, which holds Ukraine’s most significant collection of Western European, Asian, and ancient art, said its staff were not injured and that “damage assessment work is still ongoing.”

Russia launched its attack after an explosion partially destroyed the 12-mile Kerch Bridge that connects the nation to Crimea and serves as a supply line for Russian troops. Russian President Vladimir Putin called the explosion a Ukraine-backed “terrorist act.”

It’s not the first time Russian forces cause destruction to Ukraine’s cultural patrimony. In late February, Russia was accused of burning down a museum near Kyiv, destroying around 25 paintings by artist Maria Pryimachenko, and in May, Ukraine said Russia looted over 2,000 artworks. As of October 10, UNESCO verified damage to 201 Ukrainian heritage sites since the February 24 Russian invasion.

The United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said he was “deeply shocked” at yesterday’s strikes, calling the attacks an “unacceptable escalation.” Russia continued its attack today, again striking civilian areas of Ukraine.

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Elaine Velie

Elaine Velie is a writer from New Hampshire living in Brooklyn. She studied Art History and Russian at Middlebury College and is interested in art's role in history, culture, and politics.