Russia Deploys New Deadly Missile Tactic to ‘Maximize Damage’: ISW

A Russian missile attack that hit a hospital in Kyiv was part of a “new and noteworthy” tactic by Moscow to inflict maximum damage on Ukrainian infrastructure, according to a top think tank.

The assessment by the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) comes amid global outrage at Russian strikes across Ukraine on Monday, one of which hit part of Ukraine’s biggest pediatrics facility. The head of one humanitarian group told Newsweek: “These attacks must stop now.”

At least 22 people were killed and 82 injured in Kyiv according to the city’s authorities while around the country at least 36 people were killed and at least 140 injured, according to Andriy Yermak, the head of the Ukrainian president’s office.

Rescuers on Tuesday were looking for survivors among the rubble of part of the Ohmatdyt Children’s Hospital in Kyiv’s Shevchenkivskyi district, where at least two adults had died.

Ohmatdyt Children's hospital Kyiv
The rubble of the destroyed building of Ohmatdyt Children’s Hospital following a missile strike in Kyiv capital of Ukraine on July 8, 2024. The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) said it signaled a…

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Moscow has denied targeting the Kyiv hospital, with Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov saying: “We do not conduct strikes on civilian targets,” repeating the position it has taken throughout the war after similar strikes.

Video filmed by a bystander shows the moments before the missile, which was flying at a downward trajectory, hit the hospital where thousands are treated, including cancer patients.

Children with serious medical conditions, some requiring critical life support, are waiting for evacuation or re-hospitalization and the children’s dialysis department was particularly damaged, the Ukrainian health ministry said.

“Striking the country’s biggest children’s hospital; killing, injuring and sending children to the streets with IV drips, is yet another brutal reminder—these attacks must stop now, and civilians must be protected at all times,” Vicki Aken, Country Director for Ukraine, Mercy Corps, told Newsweek.

Child outside Kyiv hospital
A child is comforted on a stretcher outside after the Russian army launched a rocket attack on the “Ohmatdyt” children’s clinic on July 8, 2024 in Kyiv, Ukraine. Russian missile strikes across Ukraine included an…

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Moscow said the hospital had been hit by fragments of a Ukrainian air-defense missile, while Kyiv said it had found remnants of a Russian cruise missile.

Ukraine’s Security Service (SBU) said a preliminary investigation showed that a Kh-101 missile was used. The head of public relations at Ukraine’s Air Forces, Colonel Yuriy Ihnat said in a Facebook post that the Russian cruise missiles that struck targets across Ukraine, including at the hospital, flew at “extremely low” altitudes.

Ihnat said that in some cases Ukrainian air defense forces were confronted with cruise missiles flying as low as 150 feet above the ground. The ISW said this indicated Russian forces may have changed their tactics to give Ukrainian air defense no time to respond so as “to inflict maximum damage” on infrastructure.

The Russian missile strikes “likely employed a new and noteworthy tactic to maximize the damage from such strike series,” the think tank concluded.

Ihnat also said Russian forces are improving their reconnaissance and strike drone capabilities and the effectiveness of both cruise and ballistic missiles, raising the stakes of the NATO summit starting in Washington, DC on Tuesday, where bolstering Ukraine’s air defenses will be top of the agenda for allies.

President Joe Biden condemned Russia’s missile strikes, which killed at least 38 people, as a “horrific reminder of Russia’s brutality.”

Marko Isajlovic, International Rescue Committee (IRC) health coordinator in Ukraine, told Newsweek: “No child should risk dying amidst the rubble of hospitals meant to be safe havens for healing and recovery. Health facilities are protected under international law and must remain out of harm’s way in times of conflict.”

Meanwhile, Project HOPE’s president and CEO, Rabih Torbay, described the strike on the hospital as “unconscionable” adding that Russia “has repeatedly struck health facilities in violation of international humanitarian law.”

Newsweek has contacted the Russian defense ministry for comment.