Harrowing drone footage captures smouldering remains of city of Kharkiv

6 April 2022, 20:42

By Daisy Stephens

Drone footage has captured the smouldering remains of buildings destroyed by Russian attacks on Kharkiv, which has been under near-constant shelling in the six weeks since the war in Ukraine began.

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The video, obtained by LBC, shows a sea of charred buildings, some with flames still flickering through the burnt-out windows.

Smoke billows out from the residential blocks, once home to Ukrainians who have long since fled.

At street level, the blackened remains of trees can be seen lining the empty roads.

The city was once home to nearly 1.5 million people - a quarter of which reportedly have Russian relatives - but now it is a ghost town and still "contested" by Russia, according to the latest military assessment from the UK Ministry of Defence.

Kharkiv has been battered by Russian assaults almost constantly since the war began.

Once Ukraine's second largest city, is was a key target for Putin's forces.

Just days into the invasion, it was hit by cluster munitions that indiscriminately targeted civilians in the city and even hit a pre-school in the early days of the war.

On February 27 the regional governor said Kharkiv had been "completely cleansed" of Russian troops and was back under Ukrainian control.

But days later the city was blitzed with overnight air and rocket strikes, and now the control of the region is contested.

Last week the Kremlin announced it was scaling down its assaults and pulling back from the Kyiv region.

The news was met with a mix of relief and scepticism.

Whilst Russia has been true to its word and assaults on Kyiv and the surrounding villages have lessened, there has been little relief for places like Kharkiv.

Read more: 'The new Auschwitz': Bodies of '10,000 Ukrainians' incinerated in mobile crematoriums

Read more: 'Butcher of Bucha' behind 'inhuman' war crimes was 'blessed by the Orthodox Church'

The retreat of Russian forces has also revealed the atrocities that took place while regions were under their control.

In the newly-liberated city of Bucha, the streets were littered with the corpses of civilians, some of whom had their hands tied.

Some people were shot dead inside their cars or even while riding bikes through their neighbourhood.

Others were found in mass graves in their hundreds.

Upon visiting the devastated town, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Russia had committed genocide.

He said the mothers of Russian troops should be shown photos of the aftermath of the 'Bucha massacre'.

"See what b******s you've raised," he said.

Kharkiv has been under constant bombardment from Russian forces
Kharkiv has been under constant bombardment from Russian forces. Picture: Getty

The port city of Mariupol is another area that has been under relentless attacks from Russian forces.

On Wednesday, Ukrainian officials said Russia had deployed mobile crematoriums to the city and were burning the bodies to hide the scale of the massacre.

The city's Mayor said Mariupol can no longer be compared to the tragedies in Chechnya or Aleppo, instead saying "this is the new Auschwitz and Majdanek".

"The world has not seen the scale of the tragedy in Mariupol since the existence of Nazis concentration camps," said Vadim Boychenko.

"The Russians have turned our entire city into a death camp.

"Unfortunately, the creepy analogy is getting more and more confirmation.

"This is no longer Chechnya or Aleppo. This is the new Auschwitz and Majdanek."

The international community has responded with outrage to the footage from places like Bucha.

US President Joe Biden on Monday called for a war crimes trial for Putin.

"You saw that happened in Bucha," he said.

"He is a war criminal."

Read more: Zelenskyy: Ukrainians 'having tongues cut off' and being turned into 'silent slaves'

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Nations have tightened their sanctions in response to the massacres.

On Wednesday the US announced it was directly sanctioning Putin's two daughters, and the UK hit several Russian banks with heavier penalties as well as adding eight oligarchs to its list of sanctioned individuals.

But for many the sanctions do not speak loudly enough.

Ukraine's former Prime Minister Oleksiy Honcharuk told LBC on Monday that the West was 'allowing Ukraine to die' and warned that, if swifter action was not taken, "Putin will go to your homes".

"We have the same values, we are Europeans and now what we understand about you, you are going to absorb our deaths... you will be next," he said.

"Putin will go to your homes and will destroy your homes."

"You allow us to die," he added.

"You allow me to die because you are scared."