Wednesday marked a full week since Russia invaded its neighboring country of Ukraine on February 25, 2022. In the last seven days, there have been an estimated 2,000 civilian deaths. CNN reports that most of these casualties resulted from heavy artillery shelling, multiple-launch rockets, and airstrikes. Countless houses, hospitals, schools, and transportation infrastructures have also been destroyed.
Per The New York Times, as many as 15,000 people are seeking refuge in Kyiv’s subway system as a 40-mile-long Russian convoy slowly approaches the Ukrainian capital. It has become an underground city of mattresses, suitcases, and food stored in plastic bags. Even some pets wander around to provide a small measure of comfort.
A maternity hospital in Kyiv has set up facilities in its basement so women can give birth safely. Clinic director Dmytro Govseyev announced that five babies have been born in this area. At this time, it is unclear whether there will be a siege on this city of 2.8 million people. Another tactic employed by Russia might be to break the staunch resistance by surrounding Kyiv and cutting off the supply of food, water, and ammunition.
On March 2, Russian forces seized the strategic port city of Kherson after intense fighting that left an estimated 300 Ukrainian civilians dead. Mayor Ihor Kolykhaiev confirmed that his city was surrounded. Other cities which have been besieged include Mariupol and Kharkiv, the country’s second-largest city. The battle for Kherson, a shipbuilding city, resulted in power outages, restricted food and water, and bodies on the streets. Russian forces have set up a military administration in Kharkiv’s city hall.
Taking control of Kherson clears a path for Russian forces to seize Odesa and the Black Sea coast with it. This tactic would cut Ukraine off from world shipping. According to local officials, ground and naval troops are approaching Mariupol, which has no power or heat. There are fears of an amphibious assault on the vulnerable city.
While Russia is attacking military targets, it is also attacking civilian areas. Heavy artillery is killing people in droves while cutting off human needs such as heat, food, water, and medicine to entire communities. Homes, businesses, and vehicles have been destroyed. U.S. Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken said on Wednesday, “These aren’t military targets. They are places where civilians work, and families live.”
This assault on civilians prompted the International Criminal Court to open an investigation of war crimes on Russia and the first emergency gathering of the United Nations in 25 years. There is a growing concern for even more severe civilian casualties as the invasion continues with Kyiv in Russia’s crosshairs.