Hospitals and villas in Russian sights, so Mykolaiv lives on the front line

from Lorenzo Cremonesi

Closed shops and medical facilities hit, inside the key city between Odessa and Kherson: Russians fire on hospitals and must be reported to the whole world

MYKOLAIV – Crimini of war. There is no other possible definition: the Russians are constantly committing war crimes, they repeat at the hospital hit by Russian missiles. And he shouts it in particular to our Europe distracted by the summer holidays Alexander Demianov, the 52-year-old neurosurgeon who has been directing the center specializing in emergency surgery for five years. We arrived at him yesterday around two in the afternoon, after a whole morning spent visiting Mykolaiv, which since February 24 has been on the front line looking for to stop the Russian advance on the Mariupol-Kherson-Odessa directive and now it has become the city that serves as the logistics center of the Ukrainian counter-offensive aimed at regaining lost ground towards Kherson and threaten occupied Crimea.

The first stage of the visit to the devastation opens in the center. The missile uncovered the metal-covered roof of the luxury two-story mansion as if it were plasticine. Rubble and twisted trunks of rare plants on the balconies were thrown hundreds of meters away. Vadim, the young guardian, lets us observe the bedroom gutted by the explosion where on Monday just before dawn the wealthy 74-year-old industrialist and grain magnate Oleksiy Vadatursky was killed and reduced to pieces together with his wife Raissa. They slept. The Russians wanted to kill them because he has always financed those who fight them. They accurately calibrated the S-300 missile’s targeting system and they had no way out, they passed in a tenth of a second from sleep to death, explains Vadim trying to clean up the flower beds as best they can. He shows the craters of the fallen missiles in the vicinity of the houses. Tonight I will sleep in the lodge. for the law of probabilities. Russians are unlikely to shoot where they have already struck, this is now the safest place in the urban area, he says.

A police car is parked outside the door of the garden that leads to Sportivna, the tree-lined avenue flanking the park of the residential district. We are used to it, the Russians shoot continuously, sometimes at random, others with precision and almost always at civilian targets. But they generally prefer the darkthe most dangerous period is from midnight to six in the morning, they are almost always S-300s that leave immense craters and whose air displacements affect especially the upper floors. Go and see how they reduced the hospital and the Raikartz hotel nearby, this morning six missiles fell even in the most peripheral area where I live, says Julia, the 28-year-old policewoman who commands the patrol.

It does not take long to identify the damaged areas in this industrial city of nearly half a million inhabitants, which have become less than half since 24 February. Traffic appears practically zero, most of the shops and shopping centers closed with doors and windows protected by thick plywood boards, passers-by walk fast. The mayor, Olexandr Sienkevych, reports 131 civilians killed and nearly 600 injured since the start of the war. More than 630 buildings have been destroyed or severely damaged, about 15 percent of the urban area. On March 19, the water system was hit and since then the tap water has come in fits and starts and is not drinkable, his collaborators say.

At this point we arrive at the hospital. On Monday at half past one in the morning, the missiles hit the emergency traumatology, along with the operating room and the laboratories. Luckily we had heard the first explosions very close and over 300 patients and staff took refuge in the basement. But for the structures there was nothing to be done. Now we will have to keep the hospital closed for at least two or three weeks, the first time since the beginning of the war that they have directly targeted us, says Dr. Demianov.

These are words that closely resemble the stories of Syrian doctors and nurses in 2012-15, when the Russian aviation together with that of Bashar Assad methodically wreaked havoc of medical facilities in areas controlled by insurgent populations. He admits that the emergency room also treated soldiers, including two or three Russian wounded.

But, he adds: the soldiers are operated on and immediately sent to military clinics, there are only civilians hospitalized here, the Russians shoot at zero on hospitals and must be reported to the whole world. Not far away, Dmytry Ivanov, a well-known local entrepreneur and close friend of poor Vadatursky, echoes him: The Russians are also targeting industries. They want to bring us to our knees. They murdered Vadatursky because since 2014 he was a symbol of the local resistance and employed so many people.

August 3, 2022 (change August 3, 2022 | 22:57)

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Hospitals and villas in Russian sights, so Mykolaiv lives on the front line

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