Beyond the horrific human cost of Putin’s invasion of Ukraine lies another grim side of the conflict: the brutal destruction of Ukraine’s sites of cultural and historical interest. Sure, these are just monuments, museums, buildings and the like, but they’re also pillars of Ukrainian culture, history and identity.
In fact, a lot of damage has already been done to cultural sites in Ukraine since the invasion began. Earlier this week Unesco released a list of places that have been caught in the conflict, including 66 religious sites, 12 museums, 28 historic buildings, 18 ‘buildings dedicated to cultural activities’, 15 monuments and seven libraries.
Unesco’s list covers nine Ukrainian regions, with the places concerned ranging from the mass grave of soldiers who died fighting in World War II to Mariupol’s Drama Theatre, which was allegedly the site of a Russian air strike targeting civilians back in March.
Several of the country’s famous wooden Orthodox churches have been destroyed, as well as cultural institutions like the Ivankiv Museum and Kharkiv Art Museum. None of those on the list are designated Unesco world heritage sites, but that doesn’t make it all any less shocking.
So what can be done about all this damage? Well, ‘cultural property’ is protected under international law by the 1954 Hague Convention. However, Russia has been accused of numerous war crimes since the war began on February 24 – and it isn’t clear if or when the country will face any consequences.
You can read Unesco’s full list of damaged sites in Ukraine here.
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