UN: 207 Ukraine cultural sites damaged during Russian invasion
United Nations agencies are analyzing satellite imagery to document the destruction of Ukraine heritage sites since Russian forces launched their invasion last February.
By the numbers: The UN Satellite Center and UNESCO have verified damage to 207 sites, per an initial list published ahead of the release of a public tracking platform showing before-and-after satellite images of damaged Ukrainian cultural sites.
- These include 88 religious sites, 15 museums, 76 buildings of historical and/or artistic interest, 18 monuments, 10 libraries.
The big picture: UNESCO officials have had no access to Russian-controlled areas, such as Mariupol, where hundreds of civilians taking shelter in a theater were killed in an airstrike by Putin's forces in March, AP notes.
- UN officials believe that so far none of the seven UNESCO World Heritage sites in Ukraine appear to have been damaged.
- But UNESCO's Cultural and Emergencies Director Krista Pikkat told reporters at a briefing in Geneva Wednesday the assessment of the threat to Ukrainian heritage sites is "it's bad and it may continue to get even worse," per DW.com.
Flashback: President Biden said last May that with attacks on places like schools, hospitals and museums Russian President Vladimir Putin was "trying to wipe out the culture and identity of the Ukrainian people."
The bottom line: "Cultural heritage is very often collateral damage during wars, but sometimes it's specifically targeted as it's the essence of the identity of countries," Pikkat said.
- "It's important for us to document the damage, but also to make sure we have the information available before the recovery."