The post we are fact-checking claims that Russia does not bomb inhabited places. It is a fact that Russia, on several occasions, has targeted inhabited places and hundreds of civilians, including women and children, were killed.
Last night, the Israeli Air Forces bombed a quarter in Gaza, dropping 100 tons of explosives within half an hour, according to the data of the Israeli Defense Ministry.
According to official data published this morning by the Palestinian authorities, 436 Palestinian citizens were killed in the attack, including 91 children and 61 women. An additional 2,271 citizens were injured, including 244 children and 151 women.
Just a small note to make us think about the double standards of the Western mainstream. In the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, Russia, although overwhelmingly superior in the air for one and a half year since the conflict, never resorted to bombing inhabited areas. Nevertheless, Russia has been presented as evil, even though Israel did just that after 24 hours, says the post we are fact checking.
To date, Russia has on several occasions shelled populated places in Ukraine, thereby killing civilians, including children. Russia constantly denies that it intentionally targets civilians, however many were killed in missile strikes, drone attacks, and shelling.
Reuters has published a list of some of the attacks, in chronological order, with the highest civilian death tolls since the start of the war in Ukraine
HROZA, 5th October 2023
A Russian missile hit a cafe and grocery store in the northeastern village of Hroza, killing at least 51 people as they held a memorial service, Ukrainian officials said.
KOSTIANTYNIVKA, 6th September 2023
At least 16 people were killed in an explosion at a busy market in the eastern city of Kostiantynivka. Ukraine said that the blast was caused by a Russian missile. The New York Times reported that an errant missile fired by Ukraine might have caused the explosion.
KRAMATORSK, 27th June 2023
A Russian missile hit a pizza restaurant in the eastern city of Kramatorsk, killing 13 people, including 14-year-old twin sisters. The missile struck when the restaurant and its large outdoor terrace were full of customers. Russia claimed that it targeted ”legitimate military targets”.
UMAN, 28th April 2023
At least 23 civilians were killed, including six children, when a high-rise apartment block was hit by a Russian missile in the central town of Uman, reported Ukrainian officials. Other people were wounded in the attack that destroyed a large number of apartments.
SLOVIANSK, 14th April 2023
Russian missiles slammed into apartment blocks in the Eastern city Sloviansk, killing 15 people and causing severe damage, said Ukrainian officials. Sloviansk was hit as Russian and Ukrainian forces fought for control of the nearby Bakhmut.
DNIPRO, 14th January 2023
An apartment building in the central city of Dnipro was hit during a major Russian missile attack, killing at least 45 people, informed Ukrainian authorities. The Air Force said Russia hit the building with a Soviet-era Kh-22. This powerful missile has a long range, approximately 600 kilometers, and was designed in Soviet times. Its main aim was to be a ship-blaster, i.e., an anti-ship missile for main battleships – destroyers, cruisers or aircraft carriers. However, with the start of the Russian aggression in Ukraine, Russia started to use these missiles as heavy means of destroying ground targets beginning in May 2022. In June, several missiles of this kind devastated the shopping mall in Kremenchuk, thereby killing more than 20 civilians. They are usually fired by air from strategic bombers TU – 22М.
ZAPORIZHZHIA, 30th September 2022
Up to 32 civilians were killed and almost 100 wounded in what Kyiv said was a Russian missile strike on a convoy of civilian cars on the edge of the Southern city of Zaporizhzhia. The convoy had been assembling at a car market, preparing to leave territory controlled by Ukraine to visit relatives and deliver supplies in an area occupied by Russia. Pro-Russian officials blamed the attack on Ukraine.
VINNYTSIA, 14th July 2022
Ukraine said that Russian “Kalibr” cruise missiles hit the center of the city of Vinnytsia, killing 27 people. Ukrainian officials said the attack on the city about 200 km Southwest of Kyiv was carried out with missiles fired from a submarine in the Black Sea. The missiles destroyed a medical center and some people arriving for treatment were burned alive in their cars outside, said the owner of the center.
CHASIV YAR, 9th July 2022
A Russian missile struck an apartment block in the Eastern town of Chasiv Yar, west of Bakhmut. Emergency services put the death toll at 48 people after a five-storey building partially collapsed in the strike.
ODESA, 1st July 2022
Russian missiles struck an apartment building and two holiday camps in the Black Sea region of Odesa, killing at least 18 people, and wounding dozens, Ukrainian authorities said. The regional governor said Russia had used Kh-22 missiles and subsequent reports put the toll up to 22 people.
KREMENCHUK, 27th June 2022
A Kh-22 missile fired by a Russian bomber hit a crowded shopping mall in the center of Kremenchuk, far from the front lines, killing at least 20 people and wounding 59, Ukrainian authorities said.
KRAMATORSK, 8th April 2022
Ukraine and its allies blamed Russia for a missile attack that killed 61 people at a train station packed with women, children and the elderly fleeing the threat of a Russian offensive in the East.
MARIUPOL, 16th March 2022
A drama theater where Kyiv said hundreds of people were sheltering in the besieged Southern city of Mariupol was bombed. The exact death toll is disputed, with estimates as high as up to 600 people. Amnesty International said that ”at least a dozen people and likely many more were killed in a clear war crime”. Russia denied it was behind the attack though its denial was refuted by independent investigations such as the one by Amnesty.
Issue of Russian Air Force capacities
A great deal of information on the capacity of the Russian Air Force of hitting targets deep into Ukrainian territory can be found here, here, here, here and here, showing that it is not established and does not have all necessary elements for such operations. For that reason, Russia is using its long-range missiles instead of its aviation. But now, after almost 21 months of war, Russia must watch how it uses such missiles – even if it wanted to, Russia cannot use such missiles in populated areas instead of industrial or military targets. As can be seen from this fact-check, Russia is certainly using its long-range missiles on urban centers, but such a luxury is quite limited.
The Russian Air Force was not intended for wars such as the one in Ukraine, generally speaking, not to mention sending frequent bombs on civilian targets throughout Ukrainian cities. They are not suitable for offensive war on foreign territory where they have to deal with anti-air defense such as that of the Ukrainians, especially the one they received from their Western allies. Russian Air Forces are defensive and, above all, are aerial artillery intended for ground bombardment of one’s own territory, not on enemy territory armed with anti-aircraft defense.
Russian Armed Forces do not have modern intelligence capacities for use on foreign territory by their air forces. This is a leftover from the Cold War mentality (and many of Russia’s planes are from that period), when the Soviet Union gave up in the arms race with the US, specifically regarding the development of fighter jets and large-scale air battles with aircraft of Western allies. For that exact reason, the Soviet Union and Russia were developing anti-air craft weapons such as С-300 and С-400 for shooting down enemy airplanes.
Furthermore, the Russian military pilots are not trained for complex aerial missions in cooperation with their ground or naval forces, as the American pilots are. When it comes to Russian pilots, they don’t even have the authority to make decisions that are necessary for complex missions – instead they rely on ground decisions of their superiors in many situations.
The Air Force of Russia is not even configured for supporting the ground operation of the Russian army (unlike the US Air Force), or for flanking enemies. Moreover, such operations, namely flank attacks, are of great importance in the war with Ukraine, but Russia has very few aircraft tankers to refuel fighter jets in the air, which is necessary for attacks deep in the western part of Ukraine. Therefore, it is difficult for the Russian fighter jets to reach, for example, the regional center of the Polish border town Lviv in sufficient numbers to inflict damage that would make sense and be worthwhile in military terms.
In addition, Russian planes generally do not have radars accurate enough to geo-locate enemy ground-based radars, which is necessary when conducting operations over the enemy territory and therefore they do not dare to fly deep over Ukrainian territory. Low-depth flights over Ukrainian territory, on the other hand, are problematic for Russian fighter jets because they would then become the target of missiles from short-range anti-aircraft weapons. Furthermore, Ukraine has a large territory. Constant overflights by the Russian warplanes in search of civilian targets for bombing would present a great risk, and the possible benefits of such operations are not commensurate with the risks to be taken.
It is precisely because of all this that the Russian fighter jets are content to operate near the front line, i.e., somewhere behind the front line to reduce the risks of the Ukrainian anti-aircraft defense. The Russian Air Force also does not have a good system for quick damage assessment caused by the airstrikes on their planes. The Western cruise missiles have cameras on top which send real-time video back to the command centers to check whether a target was hit or not. Russian missiles have no such capability. Not to mention the fact that Russia has a very small number of reconnaissance planes capable of flying at high altitudes and photographing the targets with high-quality cameras. The same applies for Russian satellites, where one target can only be recorded for a short period of 24 hours. In this aspect, Russia has not advanced much since the Cold War.
Not to mention the fact that the Russian military pilots do not even go through the necessary amount of flying hours like those of the West due to financial constraints. This is an issue for missions deep into the enemy territory that require complex maneuvers before reaching the target.
There are a number of problems preventing Russian planes from carrying out bombing missions against Ukrainian cities. Many of the Russian SU24 bombers, for example, are outdated planes from the time of the Soviet Union and do not have the necessary optical instruments to locate land targets. Subsequently, pilots must resort to finding them with the naked eye. As a result, they fly low, which is highly dangerous due to the large presence of short-range anti-aircraft weapons.
Finally, it is completely inappropriate to draw parallels between Ukraine’s air defense and that of Hamas. While Hamas has almost no anti-aircraft defense against the Israeli aircraft missiles, Ukraine has its own air force (although much smaller than the Russian one) and fights over their own territory and their own skies, using serious anti-aircraft weapons – short-range (US Stingers and many other obtained from the Western Allies), as well as long-range, including the Russian S-300 but also the American Patriot, the German Iris and many others. One only needs to look at the reports of the Russian missile drone attacks on Ukraine, where 60-90 percent of the missiles are regularly shot down by the Ukrainian air-defenses. This demonstrates another case of the argument that Russia “never resorted to bombing populated centers” does not make sense. Numerous examples of damage and casualties from this fact-check show that this is not true, but also there is a greater number of bombings of population centers simply which fail due to the accuracy and quality of the Ukrainian air-defense, which regularly, and for the most part, shoots down the Russian missiles.
From this, we can conclude that the post we are fact checking falsely claims that Russia has not bombed populated areas. The fact is that Russia has on several occasions targeted populated areas, thereby killing hundreds of civilians, including women and children. Therefore, we assess the post as untrue.