War Crimes: an Investigative Methodology for NGOs

This reference book is intended to help representatives of NGOs documenting war crimes respond to armed conflict. In addition, it will help organisations interested in promoting the investigation of war crimes committed in Ukraine while working in foreign jurisdictions, based on the principle of universal jurisdiction. The reference book offers a brief overview of international humanitarian law and Ukrainian criminal law relating to war crimes.

In addition, the reference book offers a list of circumstances that must be ascertained during the inspection of a location where a war crime is believed to have been committed. Here you can find guidance on securing the scene and preserving data that may be important in later stages of incident investigation or recovery planning. The reference book also offers practical tips for collecting photographic and video evidence of capturing the aftermath of shelling.

The purpose of this reference book is to provide basic guidance on the professional documentation of war crimes cases, both for keeping track and logging these incidents and for building the capacity of specialised organizations to investigate and establish cases of violations of international humanitarian law. In addition, the reference book also aims to offer specialised organisations guidance on the principle of universal jurisdiction and the preparation of such cases for the investigation and subsequent prosecution of potential perpetrators in foreign jurisdictions.

Armoury, Prison, Graveyard: Mariupol Regional Intensive Care Hospital under Russian occupation

Truth Hounds, International Partnership for Human Rights (IPHR) and Global Diligence LLP. presents the report “Armoury, Prison, Graveyard: Mariupol Regional Intensive Care Hospital under Russian occupation”. Mariupol is a strategic port city in south-eastern Ukraine, with a pre-war population of around 400 000. Mariupol was under Russian siege from 2 March to mid-May 2022, when Russia announced its full control over the city.

During the siege, Russian forces relentlessly bombed and shelled Mariupol, destroying 90% of its infrastructure, including entire residential neighbourhoods. Throughout the siege, Russian forces made Mariupol’s healthcare facilities the targets of attacks and other military operations.

On 12 March 2022, Russian troops attacked and seized Mariupol Regional Intensive Care Hospital, with between 400 and 500 patients, doctors, and other civilians still inside. Hundreds of residents from surrounding residential buildings were corralled into the hospital by force. Russian servicemen prohibited people from leaving the hospital under threat of death, holding captive civilians in horrendous conditions, without sufficient food, drinking water, medicine, bedding, or heating. Russian and so-called Donetsk Peoples’ Republic (hereafter, ‘DNR’) forces used the hospital as a military base, stationing 5 000 to 7 000 military personnel there. Tanks and Grad multiple rocket launchers were also placed on the hospital grounds and used to shell the city, including at least two residential buildings facing the northern and eastern sides of the hospital.

This report provides detail and analysis of alleged crimes committed on the site of the Mariupol Regional Intensive Care Hospital. There are strong reasons to believe that the conduct of the Russian and ‘DNR’ military personnel amount to the following war crimes: intentional attack against a hospital; intentional attacks against civilian residential buildings; using civilians in the hospital as human shields; unlawful confinement of civilians; and inhuman treatment of captive civilians.

READ THE REPORT

 

Who’s next in the dead line? Finding responsible for killing people queueing for a bread in Chernigiv.

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Truth Hounds is a team of experienced human rights professionals that has been working on documenting war crimes and crimes against humanity in the war contexts since 2014. We aim at fighting against the impunity of perpetrators of international crimes and grave human rights violations through investigation, documentation and monitoring, advocacy, problem solving for vulnerable groups. 

1. CASE SUMMARY

The Russian troops brought civilians and civil infrastructure of the city of Chernihiv under artillery fire on March 16, 2022 at approximately 9 am (10 am according to the o”icial investigators). The attack on the queue waiting to get some bread resulted in at least 14 people killed and 27 wounded. One more person later died in hospital. North-east part of the city was targeted. The highest number of people were killed next to the house number 19 on Dotsenko street (the Soyuz no.9 shop), since exactly at that moment they were queuing in two lines in front of the main exit and the sta” exit of the shop to get bread. The biggest number of people were killed and wounded specifically due to the artillery round direct hit. The residents and the residential buildings in the surrounding General Pukhov and Dotsenko streets were also adversely a”ected by the attack. The Truth Hounds documentators have visited the site twice during the field missions on April 18 and June 13, 2022. They have documented the accounts of four eyewitnesses of this incident (some were not contacted for information by the law enforcement o”icers), as well as videorecording five points of impact, recording the damage caused by the attack. Augmenting this data with open-source information, the Truth Hounds analysts managed to recreate the event sequence of the incident, to evaluate it as a war crime, to determine the type of the weapon used, to trace the direction and the origin of fire as well as to identify the alleged perpetrators of this attack. All the findings are listed below, in the analytical report. 

2. RECONSTRUCTION OF THE ATTACK EVENTS

Based on eyewitness testimonies and strike analysis the points of impact during the attack and the strike sequence in the morning of the 16th of March 2022 were determined. On that sunny morning it was rumoured among the residents of Pukhov, Dotsenko and Kosmonavtiv streets that bread would supposedly be brought to Soyuz shop and would be handed out starting from 10 am. None of the witnesses could recall where these rumours came from. People were phoning each other and spreading this news. For this reason, people began assembling next to the abovementioned shop as early as 7.30 am. They took their children or their elderly parents with them in order to get more bread, since at that point in time the city was almost completely without power, the shops stood empty. In that situation a family could certainly use an additional loaf of bread. Gradually two queues formed, one comprising approximately forty persons, next to the shop`s main entrance. The other queue consisted of approximately 50 persons, who were actually waiting for bread and were standing next to the east wall of the same shop (see the image below). A quote by the witness KI-01

On March 16 at 07.20-07.30 I went to Soyuz shop on Dotsenko street. I secured my spot in the queue for food in the western side of the shop. I saw more people gather and queue up to get some bread in the east side of the shop. I secured my spot in the first queue to the shop and went over the east side of the shop and joined the queue. Now and then I ran to the other side to check up on the queue in the west side. Approximately 20 persons gathered waiting for bread. They were waiting for the bread to be brought[4]

Satellite image of the incident with the legend. Image taken on 16.06.2020 Coordinates: 51.51904700302249, 31.326338545255467

Witness KI-02 recalls that she heard sounds similar to blasts or rounds of fire that morning from the direction of construction materials supermarket Epitsentr, which is located 800 m to the north-east from Soyuz shop, before the round hit the queue for bread. 

 Another eyewitness of the incident KI-03 notes the following: 

The howitzer fire started. Approximately at 7.50 am. Too little space for a tank to start a fire here, in my view. I heard rounds of fire somewhere in the direction of Berezovyi Hai, quite close. The impact of the first round was so strong, that everyone in the queue squatted. And then they remained standing. The howitzer fired approximately once per minute. There was a total of approximately 12 rounds. The fire stopped. I continued standing in the queue.

This calls for additional verification, whether military equipment of this kind was firing from the residential area before it was attacked. Truth Hounds analysts, from their side, studied the satellite image of the area taken at 11 am on the day of the attack. They saw at that point in time neither military equipment nor the traces thereof in Berezovyi Hai areas and the neighbouring areas. Section 5 below o”ers more detail on this. At approximately nine in the morning a MLRS GRAD rocket hit a maple tree that was growing close to the north-east wall of the house no.25 on Dotsenko street. The remains of the round penetrated the wall of the flat no.1 in that house. The hit caused a fire in the flat. Its elderly owner died inside. A woman living on the 4th floor of this house was smothered by the combustion residue. The remains of this round damaged the flat no.83 in 127 Pukhov street. 90 seconds later another round hit the queue waiting for bread next to Soyuz no.9 shop, where 15 persons died. After several minutes a series of rounds hit multiple residential houses no. 130, no.132, no.134 (138) General Pukhov street, areas adjacent to the houses, and a glade next to Berezovyi Hai park (3-4 shell-holes, coordinates 51.520315, 31.331218). Between the houses no. 134(138) and 132 the witness KI-03 discovered later the body of his neighbour. One of the rounds hit the entrance of house no.8 on Dotsenko street. The eyewitnesses of the attack pointed to additional impact sites and recalled hearing other blasts, but were unable to localize them. 

 Detailed information on the documented impact sites, attack timeline and its consequences are listed in the table below.

Overall, on March 16, 2022 between 8.50 am and 9.15 am the Truth Hounds documentators have located 12 impact sites of the munitions covering the area of approximately 75 000 square metres (7.5 hectares) on Dotsenko and General Pukhov streets

Map of impact sites during the artillery attack on 16.03.2022.[8] Image date: 16.06.2020

2.1 ATTACK BEGINNING TIME

The o”icial investigators and certain media claim that the round hit the queue waiting for bread next to Souyz no.9 shop at 10 am on March,16. However, Truth Hounds have every reason to believe that the attack took place at least on hour earlier. First, two out of four immediate witnesses of the event simultaneously testify that 9 am is the time the queue was attacked, as well as the massive shelling of the area began. Two other witnesses are doubtful about the time. Another indirect evidence pointing that the events began before 10 am is the satellite image of the incident site taken that day. Traces of round burst and possibly the bodies of the deceased are visible in the impact site in the premises of Soyuz shop. The attack, therefore, had already happened. If one juxtaposes the shadows of the objects during this sunny day with the data from SunCalc – a website showing sun position in a certain place, date and time, one can see that the satellite image was taken on March 16 at approximately 11.10 am local time, i.e., one hour after the strike, as determined by the investigators. We do not see in the image, however, any smoke in the places of fires, caused when the rocket hit, for example, the flats located in the 132 and 134 General Pukhov street and 25 Dotsenko street. It`s unlikely that extinguishing fires required so little time, taking into account how long it takes for a fire engine with the fire fighters to arrive.

Juxtaposition of the satellite image from 16.03.2022 and SunCalc sun position calculations

A video that the abovementioned witness KI-02 passed on to the documentators can serve as an additional proof that the attack was carried out earlier. According to the woman the video was filmed at 10 am, after she left the shelter where she hid after the queue was attacked. The consequences of the attack can be seen in the video — blood on the asphalt, crowdedness and human activity in the site of strike. The witness herself comments on the events on camera as such that happen after the attack9.

2.2. PHOTOS FROM THE IMPACT SITES

The site of the attack after the round hit on 16.03.2022. A freeze-frame from the video (timeline 00:45) Date of filming: 18.04.2022.
Photo from 8 Dotsenko street hit by the rocket10
A freeze-frame from the impact site - a house on 130 General Pukhov street
A freeze-frame from the impact sites - houses on 25 Dotsenko street and 127 General Pukhov street
A freeze-frame from the impact site - a house on 132 General Pukhov stree

3. WEAPONS USED TO ATTACK CIVIL OBJECTS AND CIVILIANS ON MARCH 16,2022 IN THE CITY OF CHERNIHIV

Witness testimonies contain a rather accurate description of munition fragments, found in the shell-holes or apertures in buildings after impact. The witnesses describe these objects as “a half-cylinder-shaped object that has the same colour as duralumin, approximately 30 cm in length, with the 12-15 cm diameter” or “the splinter of the silver cylinder-shaped projectile, approximately 50 cm in length, 120 mm in diameter”. The witnesses recorded, inter alia, such splinters in impact sites on 25 Dotsenko street, and in the courtyard of 132 Pukhov street. The eyewitnesses also note small intervals between the explosions, flashing of the rounds in the sky, as well as the density of “incoming rounds”. All of this points to the use of Grad multiple launch rocket systems during this attack. If one compares the photo of the round splinter, photographed by the witness on impact site on 8 Dotsenko street and the photo of MLRS Grad rockets from other sources, one can see that the very configuration of these rockets, their calibre, tail section, material and coating colour are to all intents and purposes identical.

An eyewitness` photo made at approximately 11 am on 16.03.2022 (immediately after the attack)
122 mm projectile for MLRS GRAD
MLRS GRAD
Photo from the Ukrainian OSCE Mission after the attack on January 31, 2021. Whole part including the tail section. Photo published on: 03.02.2021[13]
Photo of the exploded ordnance of MLRS GRAD BM-21[14]

In addition, the analysis of other circumstances of this attack leads to the conclusion that during the incident not only multiple launch rocket systems could be used, but also the howitzer artillery systems. For instance, in the incident when the projectile hit the queue for bread next to the Soyuz no.9 shop. The witness that was nearby reported the whistling sound characteristic of howitzer shells, with which they flew immediately before hitting15. Another fact corroborating howitzer shell use is as follows: no splinters, characteristic of MLRS rounds (rocket base cylinders, tail sections with or without fins), depicted above, were found in the shell-hole. However, both Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) specialists and Truth Hounds documentators have identified and removed from the site of the explosion the splinters of the shell, that resemble a part of howitzer complete round in appearance. Pre-trial investigators, conducting the explosive ordnance evaluation of the shell splinters came to the conclusion that the following weapon type was used: the projectile that hit the queue next to Soyuz shop was fired from a 152 mm calibre artillery piece (for reference – the calibre of MLRS GRAD round is 122 mm).

A freeze-frame from Suspilne Chernihiv coverage video. The fragment found in the site where the queue was attacked. Date of filming: 26.05.2022.
A freeze-frame from the documenting video at the site of the attack by Truth Hounds documentators. The found fragment. Date of filming: 18.04.2022.
An open-source photo of the fragments of Krasnopol high explosive fragmentation shell fired from self-propelled howitzer Msta-S. A photo for comparison. Published on 04.03.2019.

We can therefore ascertain that in the morning of March 16, 2022 the residential houses located on General Pukhov and Dotsenko streets in the city of Chernihiv and their residents were shelled by MLRS GRAD BM-21 and, possibly, by howitzer artillery pieces that hit the people who were waiting for bread next to the side entrance to Soyuz no.9 shop. In order to put together more accurate criteria for further locating the firing positions we will use the characteristics of the weapons that are likely to have been used during the attack. 

However, a reservation needs to be made here: for the purposes of this investigation, we use and list here only those having material significance. 

We assume that most likely the city was attacked using the rockets of MLRS GRAD. However, one should keep in mind that the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation have extended range rockets (up to 40 km)16 in their arsenal of free rockets, which can be used to attack with fire from remote positions by using another launch rocket system – MLRS Tornado. The photos of fragments and points of impact, including typical patterns of fragmentation spray, allow for establishing only the type of the rounds used, namely high explosive fragmentation rounds. The shortage of data prevents us from the establishing a more accurate nomenclature, as the photos do not show any marks or labels on the bodies of the rounds. The general characteristics of the rockets of this type (appearance, calibre, length, warhead type — everything, except the range) of di”erent nomenclatures, overall, are the same. One therefore shouldn`t reject the possibility that the extended range rockets (up to 40 km) 9М521 or 9М522 with MLRS Tornado launchers could have been used. Most probable, however, is firing from a close distance for greater accuracy, given that the operational situation on the date of the attack allowed it. So, we shall opt for the version that MLRS GRAD and intermediate-range rockets. i.e., with the maximum range of fire of 20 km were used. As for the accuracy of this weapon, these multiple launch rocket systems were developed for and are used to strike against area targets, defeating a big number of the enemy`s military equipment and personnel. The salvo pattern was 130 m in length and 200 m in width, that`s why the point of impact looks like an elongated ellipse. Therefore, the statement about the exceptional accuracy of multiple launch rocket systems is far from true. As for the howitzer weapons, the artillery pieces of the 2С19 type (or its successors 2С3, 2С 35,2С5) and MSTA-B were most likely used. They have the following characteristics:

4. THE ORIGIN OF FIRE

If one juxtaposes points of impact, documented in this incident, it becomes self-evident that rockets were launched from the north-east. For instance, this is evidenced by: – projectile direct hit aperture at the level of the 5th floor in the house no. 130 on General Pukhov street, in the wall facing north-east; – traces of impact in the houses no.127 on General Pukhov street, and no. 25 on Dotsenko street; – projectile direct hit aperture in the wall at the level of the 8th floor in the house no. 134 on General Pukhov street, in the wall facing north-east; – witness testimonies that point out the flashes in the sky from north-east side vis-a-vis their position during the attack. As regards Soyuz shop that was hit, one can make a conclusion about rockets launched from north-east upon analysing the shape and location of the shell-hole. The projectile hit the ground very close to non-residential building, as you can see at the freeze-frame below from Truth Hounds video. Shell-hole edges have the shape of uneven oval, elongated along the north-east to south-west axis. One can rule out southern, western and strictly northern projectile approach trajectory, since were this the case the projectile would have hit the neighbouring structures: the brick building on the other side, the gates or the main building of Soyuz shop and created a shell-hole with a di”erent orientation. Later in this report, after establishing additional circumstances of the incident, we shall illustrate the possible artillery round approach trajectory to the point of impact in the queue before the shop. Meanwhile, using a freeze-frame from Truth Hounds documentators` video, it is possible to determine the approximate azimuth of the projectile trajectory. As you can see, it forms a sector with the approximate boundaries of 40 and 50 degrees.

The attack site after the round hit it, with the origin of fire azimuth put on top. A freeze-frame from the video filmed on 18.04.2022

5. LOCATION OF FIRING POINTS

Having determined the origin of fire (and azimuth for howitzer shells) and knowing the characteristics of the weapon used, first and foremost maximum range capability of the projectiles, Truth Hounds analysts have analysed satellite imagery from the sector located to the northeast from Chernihiv and have geolocated the possible firing positions. The only satellite image covering the sector of search dated March 16,2022 was selected for examination. The analysts limited its radius to primarily north-east quadrant, as well as to minimum and maximum projectile range capabilities, listed in section 3 above. A subsector with the established artillery shell approach azimuth was distinguished separately. Unfortunately, the satellite image does not cover all possible search areas, so the analysts studied only the part thereof, available for intelligence.

Having determined the origin of fire (and azimuth for howitzer shells) and knowing the characteristics of the weapon used, first and foremost maximum range capability of the projectiles, Truth Hounds analysts have analysed satellite imagery from the sector located to the northeast from Chernihiv and have geolocated the possible firing positions. The only satellite image covering the sector of search dated March 16,2022 was selected for examination. The analysts limited its radius to primarily north-east quadrant, as well as to minimum and maximum projectile range capabilities, listed in section 3 above. A subsector with the established artillery shell approach azimuth was distinguished separately. Unfortunately, the satellite image does not cover all possible search areas, so the analysts studied only the part thereof, available for intelligence.

Finally, the military equipment concentration was found in two open locations:

1) 24 military equipment pieces in the field between the settlements of Chernysh and Stasy with the coordinates 51.60965, 31.45947; 2) 11 military equipment pieces in the field next to the forest to the south of the previous positions, with the coordinates 51.59571, 31.44649.

The straight line distance from the impact zone to both positions amounts to approximately 14 000 metres. According to information from the General Sta” of Ukrainian Armed Forces, this area at the time was occupied by the Russian Armed Forces, so it can be maintained without a shadow of a doubt that it is the Russian military hardware in the images. Since the azimuth di”erence is quite insignificant, we can perceive both geolocations as possible launch sites of the ammunition targeting the city.

Satellite images of the Russian military equipment. Image date: 16.03.2022, coordinates 51.60965, 31.45947.
Satellite images of the Russian military equipment. Image date: 16.03.2022, coordinates 51.59571, 31.44649

When zooming in on the image, the hardware type can be identified. For instance, howitzers of both types – self-propelled MSTA-S and towed MSTA-B – are well visible in both locations. This is indicated by clear barrel contours and special features of the hardware appearance – one can guess self-propelled artillery pieces by the size and barely visible track chassis, whereas towed pieces can be recognised because they are flanked by trenches.

Zoomed-in photo of self-propelled howitzer MSTA-S, image taken on 16.03.2022
MSTA-S howitzer
Zoomed-in photo of towed howitzers MSTA-B, image taken on 16.03.2022.
MSTA-B howitzer

Truth Hounds analysts plotted the flight paths of shells of the howitzers, identified in the field, connecting their coordinates with the point of impact near Soyuz shop coordinates with straight lines. Then they contrasted these flight paths with the known firing azimuth. As a result, it turned out that the flight paths fall within the predetermined azimuth (see the image below). One can therefore claim that the projectile was launched by one of the howitzers, that was located in the field with the coordinates mentioned above.

Fire trajectory from the location of the Russian Armed Forces 16.03.2022

Unfortunately, the analysts did not detect the exact location of MLRS GRAD that day in the area in question. This is explained, first and foremost, by the limited scope of search with greater amplitude of possible GRAD locations. The following fact should also be taken into account: as established above, this image was made after 11 am, whereas the attack happened at approximately 9 am. During this time the rocket system could vanish without a trace from the firing site, even if it operated in the locations that we identified. We also note that Truth Hounds recorded the location of a big number of military equipment in Stasy village, situated next to the localised Russian positions in the field.

Satellite image. The Russian Armed Forces equipment found in Stasy village 16.03.2022.

Russian equipment`s presence not far from the determined firing points is additionally supported by the testimonies of witnesses, interviewed by Truth Hounds documentators. 

Witness KI-05 from Chernysh village notes the following:

Beginning from late February I observed the movements of the Russian military equipment along Myru street on multiple occasions. I do not remember the exact dates, there was no possibility to track time. I saw “O” symbol on the Russian equipment. In these convoys I saw APCs, petrol tank vehicles, track chassis equipment, for example, Tunguskas. However, I am not certain that they were specifically Tunguskas, because the equipment was covered by tarpaulin. I also saw the Grads mounted on Ural chassis. I am certain that these were Grads, not the Uragans, because there were guide rails of smaller diameter. I know that Grads were located and fired from the lake shore (coordinates: 51.615941, 31.509768) Approximately on March 12, 2022, roughly two weeks into the occupation, the Russians moved to the forests to the west of Chernysh. Towed artillery continuously moved along my street, towed by Urals. I also saw the movement of self-propelled artillery pieces with humongous barrels on a buttress and cockpits that looked like huge boxes. I think it`s calibre 152 mm artillery. I also saw the Uragans with my own eyes[17]

Satellite images dated 19.03.2022 support the eyewitness account of the movement and location of the Russian military equipment in the centre of the village and next to the lake. They show two pieces of the equipment resembling military trucks. These are usually used for personnel, ammunition and food transportation. Multiple launch rocket systems like Grad can also be transported in similar bodies.

Satellite image according to KI-05`s coordinates. Coordinates: 51.61708, 31.51092. Image date: 19.03.2022.

6. ALLEGED PERPETRATORS IDENTIFICATION

Truth Hounds investigators found the list of all military brigades and regiments of the Russian Armed Forces, where 152 mm artillery pieces and MLRS GRAD are in service[18]:

21st Independent Omsk-Novobugsk Motorized Rifle Brigade (heavy), military unit No.12128 (Totskoe settlement, Orenburg region) 385th Guards Artillery Brigade, military unit No. 32755 (Totskoe settlement, Orenburg region) 41st Combined Arms Red Banner Army, military unit No. 64128 (the city of Novosibirsk), three units of which have 152 mm munitions; 9th Tank Brigade; 32-nd Independent Leningrad-Pavlovsk Red Banner Motorized Rifle Brigade or military unit No. 22316, with duty station at Shylovsk range (or Shylovsk garrison) 45 km from the city of Novosibirsk. 35th Independent Guards Motorized Rifle Brigade, military unit No. 41659 (the town of Aleysk); 74th Independent Guards Motorized Rifle Brigade military unit No.21005 (the town of Yurga, Kemerovo); 149th Guards Motorized Rifle Regiment, military unit No.54306; 91-st Independent Motorized Rifle Regiment, military unit No. 83364; 120-th Guards Artillery Brigade, military unit No. 59361 (the town of Yurga and Chistyye Kliuchi village of Kemerovo region);

On the day of the attack (March 16,2022)19 35th Independent Guards Volgograd-Kiev Order of Lenin, Suvorov and Kutuzov Red Banner Motorized Rifle Brigade (35 IMR brigade, military unit No. 41659, the town of Aleysk) was to the north-east of Chernihiv. Only one type of 152 mm artillery piece (SP howitzer 2С19 MSTA-S) – 36 pieces, and only one type of multiple launch rocket system (MLRS GRAD)- 18 pieces, are in service with this brigade[20]. Therefore, only one brigade, namely 35th Independent Motorized Rifle Brigade, which is a part of the 41st Army of the Russian Federation, could engage the city of Chernihiv from the north-east[21].

Oleg Kurygin[22], born on 06.03.1977, is the commander of the brigade. His location: Uiskoe
settlement, Cheliabinsk region, Russian Federation. Rank – colonel. Truth Hounds also discovered the following personal data of Kurygin:
At the same time the commander of the 41st Army, that includes the 35th brigade, is Sergey
Ryzhkov[24] In addition, another female eyewitness from the TV coverage of Syspilne.Novyny TV broadcaster
indirectly confirms the presence of the 41st Combined Arms Red Banner Army, military unit No.
64128 (administered from the city of Novosibirsk)[25]. The woman in the video (timecode 2:40)
claims that “they (note: the Russian soldiers) were from Novosibirsk and from the Urals”.
Truth Hounds collected open source information about the 35th brigade personnel, including
personal data and photos of the servicemen. 

Truth Hounds handed over this data base to the
representatives of Chernihiv Regional Prosecution Ofice. 

 – ITN (individual tax number): 660303992221; 

– passport number: 6504 488369; 

– phone number: +7982604276723

The photo of Oleg Kurygin

At the same time the commander of the 41st Army, that includes the 35th brigade, is Sergey Ryzhkov24

In addition, another female eyewitness from the TV coverage of Syspilne.Novyny TV broadcaster indirectly confirms the presence of the 41st Combined Arms Red Banner Army, military unit No. 64128 (administered from the city of Novosibirsk)25. The woman in the video (timecode 2:40) claims that “they (note: the Russian soldiers) were from Novosibirsk and from the Urals”. Truth Hounds collected open source information about the 35th brigade personnel, including personal data and photos of the servicemen. Truth Hounds handed over this data base to the representatives of Chernihiv Regional Prosecution Office.

It should be noted that some of the Russian military from the 35th brigade were captured by the Ukrainian forces, in particular:

– Schotkin Leonid Petrovych (born in 1987, major, tank battalion commander) – captured on February 26, 2022; 

– Babin Stepan Oleksiyovych (born in 2001, senior sergeant, private) – captured on March 4, 2022; 

 – Tsaryuk Oleksiy Evgenovich (born in 2000, lieutenant, platoon commander) – captured on March 4, 2022;

At the time of writing this reference, it is known from open sources (media26, , social networks Instagram27 and Vkontakte28) that all the listed persons were once on the lists for exchange and are now in the territory of the Russian Federation. 

7. VICTIMS AND THOSE AFFECTED

A photo (zoomed-in) depicting the consequences of attacking civilians from the scene. Photo taken on: 16.03.202229

On March 16, 2022 14 persons were killed on 19 Dotsenko street (Soyuz no.9 shop). One person died30 in hospital later, moreover, 27 persons were wounded. Other victims died due to the projectiles hitting the houses located on Dotsenko and General Pukhov street.

Below is the list of successfully identified persons:

Killed:

Bohdan Hryhorovych Nazarenko
Mykola Volodymyrovych Fedorets
Ivan Mykolaiovych Oliinuk
Serhii Volodymyrovych Hrynko
Ihor Oleksandrovych Bony
Oleksandr Volodymyrovych Sovenok
Volodymyr Iakovych Davydenko
Ielyzaveta Petrivna Misachenko
Volodymyr Ivanovych Pipelo
Mykola Oleksandrovych Kuliesh
A man who could not be identified (had a moustache and a mobile phone)
A man who could not be identified (had a Xiaomi phone with him)
A woman who could not be identified (was wearing a dark green coat). This could
be Valentyna Zakharivna Novikova, who was mentioned in his testimony by KI-0431
A woman who could not be identified (was wearing a green top and a red scarf).
This could be Valentyna Zakharivna Novikova, who was mentioned in his testimony
by KI-0432
Volodymyr Stepanovych Vysotskyi
Volodymyr Sliusarenko (residential address: 132 General Pukhov street, flat 20).
The female resident of flat no.1 in 25 Dotsenko street. The deceased could not be
identified.
The female resident of the 4th floor of house no. 25 on Dotsenko street. The
deceased could not be identified.

Wounded:

Oleh Mykolaiovych Levadskyi
Anatolii Ivanovych Khmelynok
Kateryna Ivanivna Yushchenko
Olha Vasylivna Bubra
Nadiia Petrivna Donets
Oleksandra Ivanivna Shtremel
Leonid Mykhailovych Cherednyk
Serhii Mykhailovych Shybyryn
Raiisa Anatolivna Umnova
Volodymyr Ivanovych Shyk

Valentyna Petrivna Zelenukha
Mykhailo Mykhailovych Kliuch
Halyna Ivanivna Iemets
Hanna Ivanivna Kurdiuk
Oleksandra Andriivna Bulash
Mykola Vasyliovych Nasinnyk
Andrii Mykolaiovych Nevidomyi
An unknown woman
Viktoria Mykhailivna Bolohun
Artem Mykolaiovych Hryshchenko
Maksym Ihorovych Klopotovskyi
Ihor Hennadiyovych Hofman
Stanislav Ivanovych Piddubnyi (blast injury)
Olha Serhiivna Vereshchako (blast injury)
Kateryna Anatoliivna Volokhovska (blast injury)
Natalia Viktorivna Kobyn (gunshot wound)
Serhii Vikrotovych Bahlei (blast injury)

The attack resulted in a total of 53 persons killed that day. There is no certainty whether they were all civilians, or the number of the persons dead also includes the military33

8. MILITARY TARGETS NEXT TO THE POINTS OF IMPACT

One of the witnesses, KI-01, said the following when interviewed by the documentators:

“The howitzer fire started. At approximately 07.50 am. Too little space for a tank to start a fire here, in my view. I heard rounds of fire somewhere in the direction of Berezovyi Hai. Quite close. The impact of the first round was so strong, that everyone in the queue squatted. And then they remained standing. The howitzer fired approximately once per minute. There was a total of approximately 12 rounds. The fire stopped. I continued standing in the queue”34

During their visit to Chernihiv on April 18,2022 Truth Hounds documentators studied the area, indicated by the witness. They found the caterpillar track traces which could possibly establish the presence or movement of military hardware and probably a howitzer, mentioned by the abovementioned witness.

A freeze-frame from the video, with transport vehicle traces as recorded by Truth Hounds documentators. Photo taken on: 18.04.2022

We also received other testimonies of the military equipment presence in this place. For instance, the witness KI-03 mentioned the following:

On another day I saw a tank drive into Berezovyi Hai park. It drove in from Pukhov street and stopped, shut the engine at the place with coordinates 51.520802, 31.331343 (note - fully matches the place where the traces were found), stood there for a while, without shooting. Next day in the morning it was no longer there35

Satellite imagery augmented witness` accounts with additional information: first, by illustrating that the caterpillar track traces, recorded by the documentators, appeared in Berezovyi Hai back on February 28. Second, by establishing that no other tracks appeared there since then until March 16 inclusive. Likewise, a thorough examination of the nearby areas located in the vicinity of Berezovyi Hai, depicted in the satellite image taken on March 16,2022 did not establish the presence of the any military equipment tracks.

Satellite image of Berezovyi Hai park and Soyuz no.9 shop, testifying to the absence of military equipment. Image date: 16.03.2022

One can therefore conclude that the track on the ground were left, most likely, by a Ukrainian Armed Forces tank that entered in this position before February 28,2022. However, according to the eyewitness, it did not stay there for long and did not fire. Caterpillar tracks width (600 mm), documented by Truth Hounds, matches the characteristics of certain tank modifications, some of them are in service with the Ukrainian Armed Forces36 (the track width for Т-64 and Т-72 tanks is 580 mm37). 

 We know about another location of Ukrainian equipment from KI-04 who testified the following: 

A Ukrainian Armed Forces tank was standing next to 37 Belov street during the entire time of the city siege38

We also verified this account. No traces of the hardware were found.

Satellite image of house no.37 on Belov street, dated 16.03.2022.

One can therefore conclude that the track on the ground were left, most likely, by a Ukrainian Armed Forces tank that entered in this position before February 28,2022. However, according to the eyewitness, it did not stay there for long and did not fire. Caterpillar tracks width (600 mm), documented by Truth Hounds, matches the characteristics of certain tank modifications, some of them are in service with the Ukrainian Armed Forces (the track width for Т-64 and Т-72 tanks is 580 mm). 

We know about another location of Ukrainian equipment from KI-04 who testified the following:

Satellite images dated February 28, March 10 and March 16, 2022 of the glade next to Berezovyi Hai park with caterpillar track traces, documented by Truth Hounds

As for other potential military targets, thanks to the accounts of the same eyewitness, it was successfully established that Territorial Defence Force was located at the time of the attack in the premises of the kindergarten no.4. Quote:

The territorial defence was quartered in the kindergarten in this area (51°31'17.8"N 31°19'51.3"E). I didn`t see how many they were. But I was on the premises. I went there to get water. There were minibuses standing. I didn`t see any combat equipment39

Truth Hounds examined the above mentioned location of the Territorial Defence Force on the map that day and discovered neither any equipment, nor any tracks thereof. They also calculated that the distance between the kindergarten premises to the closest point of impact amounts to 45 m.

Satellite image of the kinder garden, where the Territorial Defence Force were located. Image date: 16.03.2022

9. LEGAL ASSESSMENT

The information on the Chernihiv attack of March 16,2022, collected by Truth Hounds experts suggests that the representatives of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, responsible for this attack, committed the war crime of non-discriminate attack that resulted in disproportional damage to civilians and civil objects. 

To legally qualify this attack as a war crime several mandatory elements need to be established, namely:

1. The perpetrator directed an attack
2. The attack was such that it would cause incidental loss of life or injury to civilians or damage to civilian objects which would be clearly excessive in relation to the concrete and direct overall military advantage anticipated.
3. The perpetrator knew that the attack would cause incidental death or injury to civilians or damage to civilian objects and that such death, injury or damage would be of such an extent as to be clearly excessive in relation to the concrete and direct overall military advantage anticipated.
4. The conduct took place in the context of and was associated with an international armed conflict.
5. The perpetrator was aware of factual circumstances that established the existence of an armed conflict.

The perpetrator directed an attack. According to the ICC caselaw, an attack is “a violent action against the enemy, either defensive or o”ensive40. The use of heavy weapons, namely MLRS GRAD and 152 mm self-propelled howitzers points to the existence of an attack, since they are violent actions that lead to damaging civil infrastructure, injury and deaths of the civilians.

The attack was such that it would cause incidental loss of life or injury to civilians or damage to civilian objects which would be clearly excessive in relation to the concrete and direct overall military advantage anticipated. First, it needs to be noted the Elements of Crime (added to the ICC Rome Statute) establish that the expression “concrete and direct military advantage refers to a military advantage that is foreseeable by the perpetrator at the relevant time. Such advantage may or may not be temporally or geographically related to the object of the attack.” In other words, to establish whether the desired military advantage exists, only the targets directly associated with the attack need to be studied. Based on the information that Truth Hounds managed to document one can conclude that the only object, an attack on which could give at least some military advantage to the Russian Armed Forces was the house where the representatives of the Territorial Defence Force of Chernihiv were located. Another potential target, even though the presence thereof was not proved successfully, was 1 tank of the Ukrainian Armed Forces. Nevertheless, as noted above, the attack left 15 persons dead and at least 27 injured. In addition, civilian houses no. 19, 8, 25 on Dotsenko street, and no. 127, 130, 132, 134 on General Pukhov street in Chernihiv were damaged. This significant loss of life of the civilians and damage of the civilian objects could be justified only by exceedingly highly valued military advantage, that should have been gained as a result of the attack. However, the attack was not targeting the military equipment. The attack was not conducive to the Russian Armed Forces advancing to a more advantageous position, it did not deter Ukrainian Armed Forces from such an advance. The only gain was a possible engagement of a certain part of a non-professional military group of the Territorial Defence Force. One can therefore maintain that there are reasonable grounds to believe that the attack was disproportional and, therefore, the element of crime in question is evident here.

The perpetrator knew that the attack would cause incidental death or injury to civilians or damage to civilian objects and that such death, injury or damage would be of such an extent as to be clearly excessive in relation to the concrete and direct overall military advantage anticipated. The Chernihiv attack on March 16,2022 pattern clearly indicates that the Russian Armed Forces did not seek to engage a specific target, since the rounds were fired with small intervals from a distance that allows the identification of the objects as non-military targets. 

The conduct took place in the context of international armed conflict. The war crime of non-discriminate attack can be committed only in the context of the armed conflict of international
character. The Crimean international armed conflict on the territory of Ukraine started on February 26, 2014 at latest. According to the ICC Prosecutor`s Report an international armed conflict
in Eastern Ukraine starts from July 14, 2014. Needless to say, undoubtedly an all-out full-scale
invasion of the Russian Armed Forces of the territory of Ukraine on February 24, 2022 is an
international armed conflict. This invasion is coordinated with the Russian-controlled forces of
so-called “DNR” and “LNR”. However, the Chernihiv attacks were directed by specifically Russian
Armed Forces (Truth Hounds experts identified the authors – 35th Independent Motorized Rifle
Brigade, which is a part of the 41st Army of the Russian Federation). This excludes the need to
prove in this particular situation that “DNR” and “LNR” are Russian-controlled. The fact that the
Russian Armed Forces are a part of that part of the armed conflict, in the context of which that
attack took place, is a suiffcient ground for suggesting the existence of an international armed
conflict and that the attack is associated with it.

The perpetrator was aware of factual circumstances that established the existence of an armed conflict. In order to ascertain this element, one needs to establish that the attack perpetrator was aware of factual circumstances that established the existence of an armed conflict, such as: the presence of armed groups in the attack area, armed hostilities between the enemies, shelling etc. The unit directing the attack has on multiple occasions participated in the hostilities, used non-small arms, was on the territory of another state etc, so no doubts regarding the awareness of the armed conflict arise.

All things considered, Truth Hounds believe that there are reasonable grounds to believe that the attack on Chernihiv conducted by the Russian Armed Forces was the war crime of non-discriminate attack. 

ALTERNATIVE QUALIFICATION

Should the investigators prove the use of high-precision howitzer artillery pieces in the episode where the queue was attacked, as well as the fact that there were no plans to hand out bread that day, but rumours were spread with the goal of bringing a great number of people together in one place, then the form of accountability would diller and this episode would be defined as a deliberate attack against civilians.

Links

        1. The official investigation`s notification of the 10 am attack. “The Russian troops targeted people queuing to get some bread, 10 people killed.”, dated 16.03.2022. Available at:

        https://web.archive.org/web/20220809101827/https://t.me/pgo_gov_ua/3217


        1. Ukrinform. “The Russians again killed civilians, including a US citizen, in Chernihiv in an artillery attack.”, dated  17.03.2022  Available at: http://web.archive.org/web/20220918205726/https://www.ukrinform.ua/rubric-regions/3432374-vorog-nakriv-artilerieu-cernigiv-sered-zagiblih-amerikanec.html

        2. Media initiative for human rights, “”I open my eyes: people are lying down”: those who survived after shelling the line for bread tell”, dated 06.06.2022. Available at: https://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:l0PwQwtiYLcJ:https://mipl.org.ua/vidkrivayu-ochi-lyudi-lezhat-i-ne-ruxayutsya-rozpovidayut-vizhivshi-u-cherzi-za-xlibom-u-chernigovi/&cd=3&hl=uk&ct=clnk&gl=ua


        1. Testimony by KI-01

        2. Testimony by KI-02.

        3. Testimony by KI-03

        4. The eyewitness KI-03 testifies that a round hit a house no.138 on Pukhov street at the level of the 7th floor as a result of the attack. However, having compared the panoramic images of the streets and documented materials we can see that it`s the house no. 134 on the level of the 8th floor that was actually hit. This inaccuracy in the witness account is caused by the fact that houses no. 134, 136 and 138 on General Pukhov street are, in fact one house partitioned perpendicularly by the section with a separate entrance.

        5. Testimony by KI-02

        6. Testimony by KI-04.

        7. Testimony by KI-04.

        8. Media initiative for human rights, “”I open my eyes: people are lying down”: those who survived after shelling the line for bread tell”, dated 06.06.2022. Available at:

        https://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:l0PwQwtiYLcJ:https://mipl.org.ua/vidkrivayu-ochi-lyudi-lezhat-i-ne-ruxayutsya-rozpovidayut-vizhivshi-u-cherzi-za-xlibom-u-chernigovi/&cd=3&hl=uk&ct=clnk&gl=ua

        1. Testimony by KI-03.

        2. Testimony by KI-03.

        3. Testimony by KI-03.

        4. Testimony by KI-02.

        5. The full picture of the attacks. Google Earth pins.

        Available at: https://earth.google.com/earth/d/1ijcTLtjD76ewplHR2bC3WXfozkXCWe8L?usp=sharing

        1. Video of the attack on 8 Dotsenko street made by KI-02.

        2. The round photo made by KI-02

        3. Testimony by KI-04.

        4. Testimony by KI-03.

        5. Attack on the military by GRAD-P artillery rockets. “The military were attacked by GRAD-P artillery piece”, dated 03.02.2021. Available at: https://mil.in.ua/uk/news/vijskovyh-obstrilyaly-z-reaktyvnoyi-ustanovky-grad-p/

        6. Ridus. “Two rounds burst in Rostov region.“, dated 19.02.2022. Available at: http://web.archive.org/web/20220912132017/https://www.ridus.ru/news/374331

        7. Testimony by KI-03.

        8. Ministry of Defence of Ukraine GRAD BM-21. Available at:https://www.mil.gov.ua/ministry/ozbroennya-ta-texnika/suxoputnix-vijsk/reaktivni-sistemi-zalpovogo-vognyu.html

        9. Note: the table lists average figures for the most widely used type of MLRS GRAD round: a high explosive fragmentation round with 9М22 index. As regards other round types, some of them may have the striking range of 40 km.

        10. High explosive fragmentation round 9М522 with ejectable warhead. Available at:

        http://web.archive.org/web/20220922092142/https://missilery.info/missile/grad/9m522


        1. The Russian power. Modern weapons. MSTA-S. Available at: http://web.archive.org/web/20220912114438/https://xn—-7sbb5ahj4aiadq2m.xn--p1ai/guide/army/ar/2s19.shtml

        2. Wikipedia. MSTA–B. Available at: http://web.archive.org/web/20220912113844/https://www.mil.gov.ua/ministry/ozbroennya-ta-texnika/suxoputnix-vijsk/reaktivni-sistemi-zalpovogo-vognyu.html

        3. Range

        4. Deflection

        5. Testimony by KI-05.

        6. The list of weapons and military units of the Russian Federation. “Central military district”. Available at:https://web.archive.org/web/20170405202734/http://www.milkavkaz.net/2015/12/centralnyj-voennyj-okrug.html

        7. Video with the person who witnessed the Russian troops in Chernihiv.

        8. The list of weapons and military units of the Russian Federation. Available at:

        https://web.archive.org/web/20170405202734/http://www.milkavkaz.net/2015/12/centralnyj-voennyj-okrug.html

        1. The list of weapons and military units of the Russian Federation. Available at:

        https://web.archive.org/web/20170405202734/http://www.milkavkaz.net/2015/12/centralnyj-voennyj-okrug.html


        1. Wikipedia. 35th Independent Guards Motorized Rifle Brigade. Available at:

        https://web.archive.org/web/20220725174417/https://ru.wikipedia.org/wiki/35-%D1%8F_%D0%BE%D1%82%D0%B4%D0%B5%D0%BB%D1%8C%D0%BD%D0%B0%D1%8F_%D0%B3%D0%B2%D0%B0%D1%80%D0%B4%D0%B5%D0%B9%D1%81%D0%BA%D0%B0%D1%8F_%D0%BC%D0%BE%D1%82%D0%BE%D1%81%D1%82%D1%80%D0%B5%D0%BB%D0%BA%D0%BE%D0%B2%D0%B0%D1%8F_%D0%B1%D1%80%D0%B8%D0%B3%D0%B0%D0%B4%D0%B0


        1. O.V.Kurygin page on NACP website. Available at: http://web.archive.org/web/20220926142009/https://sanctions.nazk.gov.ua/sanction-person/18993/

        2. TASS. “Major General Sergei Ryzhkov became the new commander of the 41st Combined Arms Army of the central military district”. Available at: https://web.archive.org/web/20220725175229/https://tass.ru/sibir-news/9352237?utm_referrer=ru.wikipedia.org

        3. Video interview with the victims of occupation, “Some people were not touched, some were tortured” – stories from de-occupied villages in Chernihiv Oblast”” Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pK1SngGBCZU&t=168s

        4. Livejournal. Overview of the blogosphere and social networks. “Russian tanker Kulikov, who shot at a residential building in Chernihiv, was sentenced to 10 years in prison”, dated 10.08.2022 p. Available at: https://zhzh.info/news/2022-08-10-49506?fbclid=IwAR0WDyucGUocAjs4L0nOt1PvBkHODucNwxjtNfP4RjF7mQx6x2o20IArmTM

        5. Oleksiy Tsaryuk’s personal Instagram page: https://www.instagram.com/lexa5175/

        6. Stepan Babin’s personal Vkontakte page: https://vk.com/sexcar321?fbclid=IwAR1ASqZGGROSFCtrGjz5z5onQW8BNL9fq314YTunU8wZdLdYw0q4nDYL-2c

        7. Suspilne news. “In Chernihiv, Russian troops fired at people standing in line for bread: at least 10 died”, dated 03.16.2022. Available at: https://web.archive.org/web/20220710172641/https://suspilne.media/218099-u-cernigovi-rosijski-vijska-obstrilali-ludej-aki-stoali-v-cerzi-za- hlibom-ak-minimum-10-zagiblih/ 

        8. Media initiative for human rights, “”I open my eyes: people are lying down”: those who survived after shelling the line for bread tell”, dated 06.06.2022. Available at:

        https://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:l0PwQwtiYLcJ:https://mipl.org.ua/vidkrivayu-ochi-lyudi-lezhat-i-ne-ruxayutsya-rozpovidayut-vizhivshi-u-cherzi-za-xlibom-u-chernigovi/&cd=3&hl=uk&ct=clnk&gl=ua.

        1. Testimony by KI-04.

        2. Testimony by KI-04

        3. TV coverage on the number of dead as a result of the attacks. “The bodies of 53 persons killed by the Russian attacks were delivered to Chernihiv morgues during March 16.”, dated 17.03.2022. Available at: https://suspilne.media/218438-protagom-16-berezna-do-morgiv-cernigova-dostavili-tila-53-zagiblih-vid-rosijskih-obstriliv/

        4. Testimony by KI-01.

        5. Testimony by KI-03.

        6. Wikipedia. Ukrainian Ground forces equipment. Available at: https://uk.wikipedia.org/wiki/%D0%A1%D1%83%D1%85%D0%BE%D0%BF%D1%83%D1%82%D0%BD%D0%B0_%D0%B2%D1%96%D0%B9%D1%81%D1%8C%D0%BA%D0%BE%D0%B2%D0%B0_%D1%82%D0%B5%D1%85%D0%BD%D1%96%D0%BA%D0%B0_%D0%A3%D0%BA%D1%80%D0%B0%D1%97%D0%BD%D0%B8

        7. Chassis of the T-64 and T-72 tanks. Available at: http://btvt.info/1inservice/t64_t72.htm

        8. Testimony by KI-04.

        9. Testimony by KI-03.

        10. Katanga and Ngudjolo, ICC PT. Ch. 1, ICC-01/04-01/07-717, para. 798.

Unlawful confinement and torture in Dymer, Kozarovychi, and Katyuzhanka, Ukraine

Dymer is a small settlement located 50 km to the north of Kyiv. Its pre-war population was approximately 6 000 people. Kozarovychi is an even smaller settlement of around 2 000 people, located 5 km south of Dymer. Both settlements are located in Vyshhorod Raion, which borders the city of Kyiv to the south and the Chornobyl Exclusion Zone to the north. Katyuzhanka is located 14 km west of Dymer and 60 km north of Kyiv. It sits on two key roads connecting Belarus and Kyiv. Katyuzhanka had a pre-war civilian population of approximately 4 000 people.

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A Calibrated Crime

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Truth Hounds is a team of experienced human rights professionals that has been working on documenting war crimes and crimes against humanity in the war contexts since 2014.
We aim at fighting against the impunity of perpetrators of international crimes and grave human rights violations through investigation, documentation and monitoring,
advocacy, problem solving for vulnerable groups

CONTRIBUTIONS

International Partnership for Human Rights — is an independent, non-governmental organization founded in 2008. Based in Brussels, IPHR works closely together with civil society groups from different countries to raise human rights concerns at the international level and promote respect for the rights of vulnerable communities.
We express gratitude for the contribution of the IPHR team with the technical support and participation in the field mission on 21-23 May 2022.

The Center for Spatial Technologies — is a Kyiv-based cross-disciplinary research practice.
CST works on a broad range of topics using spatial analysis and visualization techniques.
Currently, all CST’s efforts are directed toward analyzing civilian damage caused by the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
We extremely appreciate the contribution of the CST on developing the 3D-models of the missile and the damages caused by it. Also, we are grateful for the calculations CST provided — it helped to support our version on the type of the weapon used for the attack.

National Endowment for Democracy — is a private, non-profit foundation dedicated to the growth and strengthening of democratic institutions around the world. Each year the foundation makes more than 1,700 grants to support the projects of non-governmental groups abroad who are working for democratic goals in more than 90 countries.
We extend our gratitude to the NED for the financial support of the project.

The rocket attack on the Mykolaiv Regional State Administration building took place on 29 March 2022 at 8:35 am. A rocket struck the building’s facade, causing significant damage. As a result of the attack, 37 people died, a third of the building was completely destroyed, and the rest critically damaged.
Truth Hounds and IPHR documenters visited the site of the attack on 21 and 23 May 2022, photographed and videotaped its aftermath, collected testimony from five eyewitnesses of the event,
and supplemented these materials with an investigation of open source databases. This helped to establish the type of weapon use, model its flight path and the immediate moment of impact, uncover the type and location of the launch platform, and determine the group of individuals involved in the attack. Also, in a partnership with The Center for Spatial Technologies we developed the 3D-models of the missile and the damages caused by it. Based on the results of the investigation, Truth Hounds experts concluded that this attack has the characteristics of a war crime.

The destroyed Mykolaiv RSA building. Photo by Truth Hounds, 21.05.2022.

ANNOTATION

During the investigation, we established that the attack on the Mykolaiv Regional State Administration building (29 May 2022) was carried out by a Kalibr cruise missile. In addition to the visual similarity of this type of missile to the one that was recorded on a video surveillance camera right before hitting the Mykolaiv RSA, this version is supported by the fact that the explosion occurred inside the building. Usually, Kalibr missiles are equipped with a special penetrating warhead.
Based on the open data analysis, we managed to establish that the launch of the missile was likely from the Black Sea. This thesis is also confirmed by the testimony of an eyewitness who heard a rocket fly over their village — Ivanivka, Ochakiv district, located on the coast of the Dnipro Bay — on the morning of 29 March.
In the period preceding the attack on the RSA, there were 10 Russian Navy vessels positioned in the Black Sea that were capable of delivering a corresponding missile attack, specifically: two frigates, four submarines, and four small missile boats. Screening of the Sevastopol Bay for 28-29 March excludes the possibility of a strike from submarines since they were located in the bay at that time. Instead, the Russian frigates the “Admiral Essen” and the “Admiral Makarov”, as well as two corvettes — the “Ingushetia” and the “Vyshniy Volochok” – were located in the Black Sea.
The analysis of the locations of each of these boats in the sea relative to the target, as well as the comparison of this information with the testimony of eyewitnesses of the missile’s flight in the direction of Mykolayiv and the technical characteristics of missiles of the Kalibr family, indicates that a Kalibr missile was most likely launched from the Russian frigate the “Admiral Essen”.
From open sources, we managed to uncover information regarding the crew of the frigate the “Admiral Essen”, including the identities of its commanders: Captain of the 2nd Rank Aleksandr Smirnov and Captain-Lieutenant Anatoly Peretyatko, who control the missile and artillery combat unit of the ship. We believe that the attack on the Mykolaiv Regional State Administration should be considered precisely as an intentional attack on a civilian object which is criminally punishable under Article 8 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC).
Yet, even were the civilian status of the building to be questioned, an attack on it remains a war crime. This attack killed 37 people, most of whom were civilians. Considering the deaths of civilians and the destruction of a building that served to meet the needs of the civilian population, the damage caused is clearly disproportionate to the insignificant military advantage that the Russian Armed Forces could conceivably gain as a result of such an attack.

CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE INCIDENT

On the morning of 29 March 2022, at 8:35 am, a cruise missile struck the facade of the Mykolaiv RSA building at the level of the fourth floor. The explosion of the rocket inside the building caused the destruction of wall and inter-storey ceilings, as well as the complete collapse of the northern wing of the building.

Photogrammetry of the consequences of the attack on the Mykolaiv RSA based on the Truth Hounds survey. Source: The Centre for Spatial Technologies

The search for the bodies of the dead continued for around a week. Rescue service workers were clearing debris for almost a month. On 5 April, the Mykolaiv Regional Military-Civilian Administration published a list of those killed in this attack. It counted 37 names. Among them were 17 employees of the RSA, 10 representatives of the Territorial Defence, six military personnel, two employees of the Commercial Court, an employee of “Mykolaivska Varta” patrol service and the director of the KP (Municipally owned corporation) “Hosptehobslugovuvannia”1.

According to an employee of the RSA who was inside the building at the time of the missile attack, many people were already inside the building at the time of the rocket impact, as the working day had begun at 08:00 am. These were both employees of the administration itself (of its various departments) and employees of the Mykolaiv Commercial Court, located on the eighth and ninth floors of the building. As for the representatives of the Territorial Defence, the National Guard, and the military, their presence was insignificant and was explained by the fact that these bodies were responsible for guarding the premises of the administration.
According to an eyewitness and an employee, there was neither a headquarters nor a military operational control centre at the RSA. There were likewise no weapons stockpiles nor any other military equipment apart from a BTR-80 armoured personnel carrier which was standing near the security checkpoint at the intersection of Admiralska and Schneierson streets, 46 metres from the main RSA building and served precisely for guarding the checkpoint2. Another eyewitness who also works at the administration and was 150 metres away from the building at the time of the attack noted that “the rocket landed in the very wing where the office of the head of the RSA was located on the fourth floor, and the office of the head of the Mykolaiv Regional Council was located on the third floor”3. He also highlighted the absence of military equipment in or near the administration itself. Both eyewitnesses claim that no military
meetings or joint meetings were planned for that day and that there was no practice of periodically holding them and or was such a thing taking place at the time of the event. As for the management and coordination of direct military operations and actions in this
sector, the leadership of the operational group of “Primorya” troops who are responsible for this were not located in the premises of the Regional State Administration – neither at the time of the attack, nor at any other time

DETERMINATION OF THE TYPE OF WEAPON USED

The moment the rocket struck the premises of the Mykolaiv RSA was captured by a camera installed on the roof of the “Admiral” residential complex, located 40 metres southwest of the RSA

This video was posted by the head of Mykolaiv RSA, Vitaly Kim, on his Telegram channel on the day of the attack4. Truth Hounds documenters managed to locate this camera during the process of filming the object using a drone. Studying the architectural characteristics of the building made it possible to determine that the camera was installed on the roof of the twenthieth-storey section of the residential complex at a height of approximately 80 metres.

A freezeframe from the video of the flyover of the Mykolaiv RSA building with the surveillance camera that captured the moment of the missile impact on the Mykolaiv RSA marked. Source: Truth Hounds.
The location of the surveillance camera shown on a map.
A 3D projection of the coverage range of the surveillance camera.

First of all, it is clear that it was a cruise missile used in the attack, since the side feathers on the missile body are clearly visible in the frame. In addition, it is clearly visible that the wings are located strictly perpendicular to the main section of the rocket.
Freezeframes from the video of the missile’s flight make it possible to study the missile more closely and determine its type and nomenclature based on its appearance.

A slow-motion fragment of the video of the rocket's flight. Source: The Centre for Spatial Technologies

Despite the fact that – as can be seen from the camera recording – the missile was approaching from the northwest before hitting the building (i.e. from the direction of territory under the control of the Ukrainian government), we can immediately rule out the scenario that this attack was carried out by the Ukrainian side. Under the terms of the Budapest Memorandum, Ukraine rid itself of its entire arsenal of cruise missiles. In the process, it disposed of 487 Kh-55 missiles and transferred another 581 units to Russia.

As for the arsenal of cruise missiles with which the Russian military is currently armed, there are only 11 types5. At the same time, in the public reports of the General Staff of Ukraine, as well as other official sources and analytical reports by experts, seven types (or families) of missiles have been launched by Russia on Ukrainian territory, among them are four types of cruise missiles: the sea-based Kalibr 3M-54, the sea- and shore-based P-800 Oniks, the land-based Iskander 9K720 (experimental, probably there were some dividual launches from ballistic missile installations), and the air-based Kh-101 and Kh-555 (a modified version of the Soviet Kh-55)6

The main types of cruise missiles used by the Russian Armed Forces

If you compare the missile shown in the video freezeframe with other cruise missiles used by the Russian Federation, the most similar in appearance to the missile in the video are cruise missiles from the Kalibr family, as well as Kh-101 and Kh-555 missiles.
According to information provided to Truth Hounds by sources in investigative bodies, ballistics experts conducted a preliminary analysis of debris from the incident site and concluded that a cruise missile from the Kalibr family was used for the strike. While the expert examination of the remains of the missile is still ongoing in a specialised forensic laboratory, Truth Hounds analysts analysed the probability of the use of various types of cruise missiles and found additional evidence to support that the strike was carried out by a Kalibr missile.
This version of events is supported by several external factors.

Kh-101 and Kh-555 missiles are usually launched by Tu-95 and Tu-160 bombers from Russian and Belarusian aiespace boarding Ukraine, as well as from the waters of the Black and Caspian seas. As mentioned above, the video of the rocket’s approach to the RSA building may indeed indicate the nothern or north-western starting point of the flight’s trajectory.

As for the launches of the Kh-101 and Kh-555 missiles from the territory of the Russian Federation, this scenario might be considered if solely the direction of the missile’s approach is taken into account. However, in this case, circumstances of the incident should also be considered, namely the specifics of the ammountion explosion.

According the official reports, based on analysis of the nature of the damage, the explosiontook place inside the building. Rockets equipped with a special penetrating warheard have such an effect. This feature is not included in the tactical and technical characteristics of the Kh-101 missile – the detonation of the missile’s warhead occurs at a distance of several metres from the target – but it is almost always a feature of Kalibr type missiles.

In addition, regarding the Belarusian airspace origins of the missile (or more precisely – its imposibility), according to messages from “Belaruski Gayun” Telegram channel that monitors military activity in the territory of the republic, several Su-25 attack aircraft took of from Luninets Airport (Brest Region) at a time that coincided with the moment of the attack in Mykolaiv. However, all of then were armed with short-range missiles such as Kh-25ML, Kh-25MLP, S-25L, or Kh-29L, wich could not have hit the target in Mykolaiv.

A screenshot from the Belaruski Gayun Telegram channel (08:00-08:09 Luninets. Taking o of four jet aircraft. 08:47-08:54 Luninets. Landing of four Su-25. 08:54-09:00 Luninets. Landing of two more Su-25.)

The possible Caspian origin of the launch also seems questionable. The fact that the missile, in a hypothetical launch from the Caspian Sea, would have had to turn 120 degrees from its initial trajectory makes the possible of such a launch unlikely. In addition, long-range missile launches (the distance from Mykolaiv to the coast of the Caspian Sea is approximately 1300 km) are always tracked by the Ukrainian tracking system and, as a result, the early warning system signalling the treat of an airstrike would have been activated in essentially all regions of the country. However, on 29 March, neither in Mykolaiv Oblast nor the vast majority of Ukraine’s other regions, were there any air-raid sirens sounding immediately before the attack [9].

To reject the scenario of an air-launched Kalibr missile, we should immediately note that missiles of this modification and the Kalibr family as a whole are not intended for launch from the air. However, there are new models of Kalibr, in particular the “Club-A” class missiles, which are air-based and can be launched from the air. Nevertheless, there is no information to indicate that the Russian Armed Forces possess such weapon and even less so to suggest that they launch Kalibr missiles from the air.

Therefore, it can be concluded that for the attack on the Mykolaiv Regional State Administration building on 29 March 2022 a Russian missile of the Kalibr family launched from the Black Sea was used.

For further confirmation of the launch of a missile from the Black Sea, Truth Hounds sent a field mission on 24 July 2022 to a populated area in Ochakivsky District. Mission team members met with a resident of the village of Yaselka in Ochakivsky District who had been an eyewitness to the flight of a rocket that was probably that that struck the Mykolaiv RSA.
According to the woman, that day she was in a private residence located in the village of Ivanivka, Ochakivsky District (at a location with the coordinates 46.647954, 31.671917). Between 06:00 and 07:00 in the morning (the witness is not sure of the precise time), she heard – and distinguished from her previous observational experience – the rumble of a rocket flying overhead and then, about three minutes later, a loud explosion from the direction of Mykolaiv. The woman claims that she knows the direction exactly because her house is located in such a place at which the sounds of explosions in Mykolaiv can be easily heard. Often, during
explosions in the city, smoke and light can be seen from the yard of the house. The witness also recalls that this was the only sound of an explosion that day. In her words:

"That day, Mykolaiv was attacked once. Even here, the windows shook a little from the explosion. A slight vibration went through the ground. Later, I saw the news that the Mykolaiv RSA was hit. I understood that what I heard was a rocket towards Mykolaiv."

During the conversation, the witness also emphasised that she remembered exactly when the explosion occurred in the city following the sound of a rocket flying over the house. In her words

"After this hum and whistle, in about three minutes came the roar of an explosion. The sound of the explosion came from Mykolaiv."[10]

This testimony contains some inconsistencies with the actual circumstances of the case in terms of time indicators. As it is impossible to corroborate the words of the witness with the testimony of other eyewitnesses, we may rely on other methods of determining the time. If one inputs the place and time of the witness on the day of the attack in the SunCalc11 resource, it
indicates that the period between 6:00 and 7:00 am to which the witness refers (with the exception of the final few minutes) was the period of pre-dawn twilight. Since the woman claims that it was already light and quite warm at the time of the rocket’s flight, most likely the rocket’s flight occurred later and corresponded to the official version and time indicated on the video from the scene (see above).

The fact that the witness spent the rest of the day in the same house in which she had been since the morning and did not hear or see any other rockets or explosions, leads one to the conclusion that she witnessed the flight of a rocket, firstly, launched from the waters of the Black Sea and, secondly, precisely the one directly at the Mykolaiv RSA. At the same time,

IDENTIFYING THE TYPE OF MISSILE OF THE KALIBR FAMILY

To establish a more accurate nomenclature of the cruise missile that was launched at the Mykolaiv RSA, we may refer to the technical and tactical characteristics (TTC) of various types of missiles of this family. Here it is necessary to note that the TTC of the Kalibr family of missiles, which are in use by the Russian Armed Forces, are secretive and not widely known with absolute certainty. From open sources, we have an accurate description only of the “line” of Kalibr cruise missiles, that is the ones that are produced for export with detailed descriptions of their characteristics and images of their appearance. These export modifications have a “Club” marking – the Russian name contains the letter “E”, for “export” – and are endowed with truncated capabilities in terms of flight range, so as not to fall foul of restrictions on the maximum permissible flight range of cruise missiles for sale12. However,
according to military experts, the differences between the missiles in the service of the Russian Army and their export counterparts (except for their flight range) are insignificant and all these missiles form a single family of cruise missiles that have an extremely similar appearance and dimensions13. Moreover, from the same open sources, we have information on the nomenclature of the Kalibr missiles in service of the Russian Armed Forces, as well as their approximate characteristics. All of this makes it possible to produce a consolidated table which presents – as fully as possible – a description of all the types of such cruise missiles,
including their appearance, dimensions, flight range, and so on, with certain characteristics of export modifications extrapolated to indicate those of missiles only in service with the Russian Army, but for which the relevant data remains classified and not publicly available.

NB: Internet resources on military topics, news reports regarding the armament of the Russian Armed Forces, and thematic forums served as the
sources for the performance characteristics of Russian combat missiles of the Kalibr family. Some data may be inaccurate or contradictory

Therefore, having compared all the characteristics of the rocket, as well as the facts that:

  • the rocket came from the Black Sea;
  • the missile hit a target 40 km inland;
  • and on the approach to the target, the missile performed a manoeuvre from a height exceeding 80 metres, the moment of which was recorded on camera;

a final conclusion can be drawn that

the destruction of the Mykolaiv RSA building was conducted using a cruise missile of the “Kalibr” family, with the nomenclature of 3M14K for underwater basing or 3M14T for basing on surface vessels.

CASES OF MISSILE ATTACKS FROM THE BLACK SEA RECORDED IN MYKOLAIV CITY AND OBLAST

During the period from 17 March to 23 April 2022, the Russian military fired about 30 Kalibr cruise missiles towards Mykolaiv and the Mykolaiv region, not including the shelling of the Mykolaiv RSA on 29 March. Of these, about 13 Kalibr-type cruise missiles were shot down by Ukrainian anti-aircraft units. Below is a brief description of each case of Kalibr shelling of Mykolaiv city and oblast during the specified period. On 17 March 2022, Vitaly Kim, the head of the Mykolaiv RSA, published a video that showed the
consequences of shooting down Russian Kalibr cruise missile over residential buildings in Mykolaiv14. The cruise missile was launched from the Black Sea. On 18 March 2022, Russian forces attacked a barracks where Ukrainian troops were stationed15. The attack was carried out by Kalibr-type cruise missiles launched from the Black Sea which, as People’s Deputy Oleksii Goncharenko wrote on his Telegram channel, is evidenced by the nature of the destruction16.
On 22 March 2022, the Armed Forces of Ukraine shot down a cruise missile flying in the direction of Kropyvnytskyi around Mykolaiv17. It is known that on the same day, the Russian military launched eight cruise missiles from the sea, most likely Kalibr 3M-14, in the direction of Rivne, which flew over Mykolaiv18. The likely launch point was near Sevastopol, at coordinates 44.679440, 33.502202.
On 23 March 2022, a Kalibr cruise missile was also shot down over Mykolaiv19. The type of missile can be established from a video which shows the base and “wings” characteristic of the Kalibr family of missiles.

The next day, 24 March 2022, the head of the Mykolaiv RSA, Vitaly Kim, confirmed that two cruise missiles flying from the Black Sea were shot down over Mykolaiv . In particular, one of them was shot down over the Pivdennyi Bug River .
On 25 March 2022, Vitaly Kim reported that two more cruise missiles flying over Mykolaiv had been shot down .
The next was the shelling of Mykolaiv RSA on 29 March 2022. Following the shelling of the Mykolaiv RSA, Russian troops reduced their shelling of Mykolaiv city and oblast compared to the period prior to 29 March. Particularly, on 3 April, the air defence forces of Ukraine shot down two cruise missiles over the oblasts of Mykolaiv and Odesa . Five days later, on 9 April, a cruise missile was shot down over Mykolaiv. In particular, the media reported that around seven cruise missiles were launched from the Black Sea over Mykolaiv Oblast on the same day.
Soon after, on 15 April, Russian troops shelled Mykolaiv, namely the warehouses of Nova Poshta, using a cruise missile . From the wreckage, it appears to be a Kalibr . Afterwards, there were only isolated instances of shelling of Mykolaiv on 18 and 23 April 18. On 18 April, Ukrainian air defence shot down a cruise missile flying towards Mykolaiv , and, on 23 April, a Kalibr was used to shell Mykolaiv’s Namyv neighbourhood.

DISLOCATION AND TRACKING OF THE MOVEMENT OF MISSILE-CARRYING SHIPS OF THE BLACK SEA FLEET OF THE RUSSIAN NAVY WHICH PROBABLY ATTACKED THE RSA

Russian military vessels carrying 3M14K “NK Kalibr” series and 3M14T “PL Kalibr” series missiles include those at various bases, including among those of the Caspian and Black Sea fleets. The Caspian Fleet is armed with missile carriers for launching Kalibrs. Among them are missile corvettes of the “Buyan-M” project – the Grad Sviyazhsk, Uglich, and Velikiy Ustyug. Kalibr launches from the Caspian Sea during the shelling of Lviv on 18 April30 were confirmed by representatives of Ukrainian authorities. Some mass media also reported Kalibr shelling of Kyiv on 26 June31. Until now, there have been no statements regarding the launch of missiles from the Kalibr family from the direction of the Caspian Sea. The fact that there were no air raid sirens sounding over most of regions of the country on the day of the attack on the Mykolaiv RSA also testifies in favour of the scenario of a short-distance missile approach.
As for the Black Sea Fleet, the Kalibr missile carriers are the frigates of the ‘Project 11356’ (the frigate the Admiral Makarov and the frigate the Admiral Essen), small missile ships of Project 21631 (the MRC Grayvoron, MRC Ingushetia, MRC Vyshniy Volochek, and MRK Orekhovo-Zuyevo) and submarines of the Varshavyanka project (there are four of them in the Black Sea Fleet of the Russian Federation)32. As for arming patrol ships of Project 22160 – part of the Russian Black Sea Fleet – with Kalibr missiles, at most this can be declared a possibility given that there is no data confirming this explicitly33.

The Black Sea Fleet of the Russian Federation, located in the waters of the Black Sea

It is important to note instances of the use of 3M14K/T Kalibrs by the Russian Navy, mainly by the Black Sea Fleet of the Russian Federation during the latter’s participation in the armed conflict in Syria. For example, it is known that in 2017 several missile attacks were carried out from the Admiral Essen on Syrian territory, including in the east of Palmyra Province, some 300 km from the country’s Mediterranean coast34. Submarines carried out seven missile attacks on Syria with missiles of the 3M14K nomenclature, with the maximum distance of damage being 670 km. Ships of the Caspian Fleet also took part in the launch of Kalibrs of the same nomenclature, firing eighteen 3M14T Kalibr missiles at seven targets in Raqqa, Idlib and Aleppo provinces on 25 November 201535. As noted above, submarines and surface vessels are the carriers of Kalibr missiles of the 3M14K and 3M14T nomenclatures. Of those that were part of the Black Sea Fleet of the Russian Federation and stationed in the Black Sea at the time of the attack, there are four submarines, two frigates, and four small missile boats. Other ships of this type were located in the
Mediterranean Sea in the territorial waters of Turkey and could not have launched missiles. With the help of open-source intelligence (OSINT) tools, we monitored the location and movement of the vessels of the Black Sea Fleet of the Russian Federation starting from 25 March 2022 in order to determine – as accurately as possible – the launch platform of the missile that hit the Mykolaiv RSA.
Satellite images of the Sevastopol Bay, dated 25 March 2022, illustrate that at the time neither of the two missile-carrying frigates were present at their location of deployment. Therefore, at that time they were already on the Black Sea. Moreover, individual OSINT investigators confirmed the fact that on 24 March 2022, both frigates had gone to sea36. As for the small missile ships, the picture below shows that at least two of them – probably the Ingushetia and the Vyshnyi Volochok – were still in the bay.

Satellite image of Sevastopol Bay from 25 March 2022, with conventional designations of ships[37]

However, starting from 27 March, both corvettes were already on the Black Sea near the Admiral Makarov38.The Admiral Essen was also moving northwest by sea. The picture below shows a satellite image of this.

Movement and photo of frigate the Admiral Essen dated 25 March 2022[39]

Another OSINT source geolocates the Admiral Essen, indicating its precise coordinates as of 28 March 2022 as 46.14435, 31.22095.

Location of the Admiral Essen on 28 March 2022. Coordinates: 46.14435, 31.22095[40]

In general, this data coincides with the scheme below. It shows the approximate location of all missile-carrying vessels of the Black Sea Fleet of the Russian Federation on the Black Sea on 28-29 March 2022: frigates the Admiral Essen and the Admiral Makarov and corvettes the Ingushetia and the Vishniy Volochok. The last three were in a small group at coordinates 44.90589721327387 33.19072862512197, relatively close to Sevastopol[41].

The illustration schematically shows: "E" - the location of frigate the Admiral Makarov and corvettes the Ingushetia and the Vyshniy Volochok; and "A" - the location of frigate the Admiral Essen[42]

If one considers the screening of the Sevastopol Bay on the same days, 28-29 March, you can see that the two frigates and two missile-carrying corvettes were indeed not present. Instead, all four submarines and the missile-carrier the Grayvoron were at the place of permanent deployment. From this, it is revealed that neither these submarines, nor the corvette the Grayvoron, could have been the launch platforms for the missile attack against the Mykolaiv Regional State Administration on the morning of 29 March 2022. The circle of probable launch platforms is therefore narrowed down to the corvettes the Ingushetia and the Vyshnii Volochok, as well as the frigates the Admiral Essen and the Admiral Makarov, which we have established were all on the Black Sea at the time of the attack.

Screening of bays in Sevastopol where the Black Sea Fleet of the Russian Federation is stationed, dated 28 March 2022[43]
Screening of bays in Sevastopol where the Black Sea Fleet of the Russian Federation is stationed, dated 28 March 2022[44]

Additional confirmation of the absence of the frigates the Admiral Makarov and the Admiral Essen from the bay is provided by a photo taken on 28 March 2022 in the Sevastopol Bay. There are no frigates present in it[45]

Photo from Sevastopol Bay from 28 March 2022. Source: Krym.Realii

Following the movement of ships after the shelling of the Mykolaiv Regional State Administration on the morning of 29 March, we see that already on 30 March 2022, the frigate the Admiral Essen had begun to move away from the position indicated in the photo
above[46]

30 March 2022. The change of position of the frigate the Admiral Essen.

Thus, the most likely party to have executed the shelling of the Mykolaiv Regional State Administration are the leadership of the frigate the Admiral Essen, which fired one 3M14T Kalibr missile towards the building. This conclusion is based on information regarding the location of the frigate on the sea relative to the target and is also confirmed by the testimony of an eyewitness who heard the flight of the rocket and the explosion in Mykolaiv that immediately followed it. If one connects the approximate coordinates of the location of the frigate with the location of the witness at that moment and extends the line further, taking into account the manoeuvre that the missile performed on the approach to the target, one can accurately reach the Mykolaiv Regional State Administration building as shown in the diagram below.

The trajectory of the Kalibr flight on 29 March 2022. Source: the Spatial Technologies Centre.

One more important point is that, knowing now the exact type of missile used and, hence, its speed, one can return to the local resident’s testimony to compare it with mathematical calculations. The speed of the Kalibr missile is 0.8 M (Mach), or 981 km/h47. The distance from the witness’s house to the Mykolaiv Regional State Administration building is 45 km. Accordingly, a rocket of this type would have flown past in approximately two and a half minutes. It would take slightly less time for the sound of the explosion to cover this distance – roughly one and a half to two minutes48. Therefore, on average, between four and five minutes should have
passed from the moment the witness heard the rumble of the rocket to the moment she heard the explosion. In her words:

“After this hum and the whistle, in about three minutes came the roar of an explosion. The sound of the explosion came from Mykolaiv.

In general, this corresponds to the calculations. Greater reliability would, however, necessitate further data, specifically accurate times, distances, weather conditions, temperatures, and so on.

Additional confirmation of the indicators of this speed and, therefore, the speed of the Kalibr missile is obtained from mathematical calculations derived from the data from the above – mentioned video of the rocket’s approach to the State Administration building.

This was conducted by specialists from the Centre for Spatial Technologies using video to perform 3D modelling of the Kalibr trajectory. This approach made it possible to perform the necessary measurements and calculations. The distance between the main part of the rocket in frames #14 and #31 is 170 metres. The video was shot at a frame rate of 25 frames per second. This means that the rocket covered a distance of 170 metres in 0.64 seconds, in other words, its speed during this segment of its trajectory was 266 m/s. This is close to the speed of the identified type of 3M-14 “Kalibr” missile — 275 m/s (a deviation of 3.2%).

The trajectory of the rocket in 3D space. Source: the Centre for Spatial Technologies.
Combined frames 14-32 shoingw the position of the missile on each of them. Source: the Centre for Spatial Technologies.

AN ALTERNATIVE VERSION OF THE SHELLING.

However, we do not rule out the possibility that the shelling was carried out from Sevastopol
by the crews of the three other missile-carrying ships mentioned above: the frigate Admiral
Makarov and the corvettes the Ingushetia or the Vyshniy Volochok. As we noted above, on 20
March, at least two cases were recorded in which Kalibr cruise missiles were launched near
the coast of Sevastopol in the direction of Mykolaiv. In particular, on 22 March, videos of
rockets being launched from the sea near Sevastopol appeared in the public domain and, on
25 March, Zhytomyr Oblast was shelled, most likely from the Ingushetia or the Vyshnyi
Volochok, located near the coast of Sevastopol50.
However, residents of settlements (Solonchaka and Dmytrivka) located along the likely flight
path of the missile from the launch point near Sevastopol, in a conversation with Truth
Hounds documenters, could not recall anything similar on 29 March to confirm such a version
of events51.

WHO GAVE THE ORDER AND FIRED?

In open sources, quite complete information can be found regarding the leadership of the ships
of the Russian Navy’s Black Sea Fleet, including the Kalibr-carriers. Since we have limited the
circle of probable executors of the shelling of the Mykolaiv Regional State Administration, the
captains of only four of them are presented below: those of the frigates the Admiral Makarov
and the Admiral Essen, as well as small missile ships the Ingushetia and the Vyshniy Volochok.
But since, in our reasoned opinion, the Admiral Essen was the missile’s most likely launch
platform, we will present its crew in full:

Frigate the Admiral Essen

Command: Captain of the 2nd Rank Oleksandr Smirnov (Aleksandr Smirnov); and commander of
the missile and artillery combat unit of the ship, Lieutenant Captian Anatolii Peretyatko (Anatoliy
Peretyatko).52.

Crew:

1. Deputy commander – Captain of the 3rd Rank Oleh Lepisevich (Oleg Lepisevich);
2. Commander of Combat Unit 1 (CU-1) – Captain-Lieutenant Denys Myasoedov (Denis Myasoedov);
3. Commander of CU-2 – Captain-Lieutenant Volodymyr Petrov (Vladimir Petrov);
4. Commander of the rocket battery – Senior Lieutenant Serhii Rovba (Sergei Rovba);
5. Technician of the artillery battery of CU-2 – Midshipman Valery Payusov (Valery Payusov);
6. The commander of the targeting group – Senior Lieutenant Serhii Gavrilchenko (Sergei Gavrilchenko);
7. Miner of CU-3 – Senior Sailor Vitalii Kasyanenko (Vitaly Kasyanenko);
8.Commander of CU-5 – Captain-Lieutenant Oleksandr Gruzyntsev (Aleksandr Gruzyntsev)
10. Machinist of the CU-5 turbine group – Sailor Pavel Gusev (Pavel Husev);
11. Senior electrician of CU-5 – Senior Sailor Maxim Rudenko (Maxim Rudenko);
12. Radio operator of CU-4 – Senior Sailor Oleksiy Lapin (Aleksey Lapin);
13. Commander of CU-7 – Captain-Lieutenant Viktor Smirnov (Viktor Smirnov);
14. The leader of the group – Chief Warrant Officer Volodymyr Krymov (Vladimir Krymov);
15. Hydroacoustic of CU-7 – Senior Sailor Vitalii Hrebenyuk (Viyaliy Greben);
16. Operator of the CU-7 automatic control system group – Sailor Serhii Galas (Sergei Galas).[53]

Frigate the Admiral Makarov

Command: Captain of the 2nd rank Serhii Romanenko.[54]

Corvette (small missile boat) the Vyshnyi Volochyok

Command: Captain of the 3rd Rank Sukhar Dmytro Oleksiyovych (under investigation in a case under Article 408 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine); commander of the navigator combat unit, Senior Lieutenant Stanislav Pokhodoschuk; and commander of CU-5, Senior Lieutenant Pavel Gushchyn.[56]

Corvette the Ingushetia

Command: Captain of the 3rd rank Alexander Yermolenko[57]

WHY IS THIS A WAR CRIME?

The information presented in the analytical report provides reasonable grounds to believe
that the shelling of the Mykolaiv Regional State Administration at 8:35 am on 29 March 2022
seriously violated international humanitarian law (IHL) and should be considered a war crime
under Article 8 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court and Part 1 of Article
438 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine (Violation of the Laws and Customs of War).
The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court criminalises attacks on civilian objects
under Article 8(2)(b)(ii). In addition, Article 8(2)(b)(iv) also criminalises an indiscriminate
attack when it is known that such an attack will cause excessive loss of life, injury to civilians,
or damage to civilian objects.
Although these elements of war crimes are not directly mentioned in Article 438 of the
Criminal Code of Ukraine, they are undoubtedly implied by the Ukrainian Criminal Code
through a general reference to “violation of the laws and customs of war provided for by
international treaties, the binding consent of which has been given by the Verkhovna Rada of
Ukraine”

One such international treaty is Additional Protocol I to the Geneva Conventions, which in Article
85 defines two serious violations of IHL which are de facto war crimes, namely: (a) turning the
civilian population or individual civilians into targets of attack; (b) carrying out an indiscriminate
attack on the civilian population or civilian objects, knowing that such an attack will cause
excessive loss of life, injury to civilians, or damage to civilian objects.
The Mykolaiv Regional State Administration building is a civilian object protected by IHL.
Accordingly, the shelling of the administration by the troops of the Armed Forces of the Russian
Federation is a war crime in the form of a deliberate attack on a civilian object. Alternatively,
even assuming that the Mykolayiv RSA could be considered a legitimate military target, its
shelling violated IHL regardless because it did not comply with the principle of proportionality,
resulting in numerous injuries and deaths among the civilian population.
In order for the shelling of Mykolaiv Regional State Administration to be considered a war crime
in the form of a deliberate attack on a civilian object, whether under the Rome Statute or
Ukrainian criminal law, it is necessary to demonstrate the presence of the following elements
inherent in this crime, namely:

a. The perpetrator carried out the attack.
b. The target of the attack was a civilian object – that is to say an object that is not a military target – or a civilian population or group of civilians.
c. The perpetrator deliberately chose such a civilian object or group of civilians as the target of the attack.
d. The act took place in the context of an international armed conflict or was related to it.
e. The perpetrator was aware of the actual circumstances that indicated the existence of an armed conflict

The perpetrator carried out the attack.

According to the practice of the ICC, an attack is a “violent action against an opponent, whether offensive or defensive”58. The use of heavy weapons by a party to an international armed conflict, namely Kalibr-type missiles, indicates the existence of an attack, as their use is a violent action that results in damage to civilian infrastructure, injury, and death of civilians

The object of the attack was a civilian object that was not used for military purposes

The principle of distinguishing civilian objects from military targets is codified in Article 48 of Additional Protocol I to the Geneva Conventions (AP I) and is one of the most important foundations of IHL. It determines that an attack may be directed only at military objects. Any deliberate targeting of civilian objects is prohibited and seriously violates IHL.
According to Article 52(3) AP I,

“military objectives are limited to those objects which, by their nature, location, purpose, or method of use, effectively contribute to the conduct of military operations and whose partial or complete destruction, capture, or neutralisation in the circumstances prevailing at a specific moment in time,
provides a clear military advantage”.

In particular, in order to define an object as a military objective, a criterion mentioned above (the object’s nature, location, purpose, or method of use) must have a military nature. By its very nature, the Mykolaiv Regional State Administration is a government building, on the upper floors of which the Commercial Court is located. According to the information obtained by Truth Hounds researchers, the building was not used for military meetings or planning involving any participation by armed units in military operations. In order for an object to be considered a military objective due to its location, the capture of the territory in which it is located must provide a clear tactical advantage to the party to the conflict. In addition, the location of civilian objects directly on the territory of military objects or in militarily important areas may turn such civilian objects into legitimate military targets.
From this geographical perspective, the destruction of the Mykolaiv Regional State Administration neither provided any tactical advantage nor allowed for the assumption of control over a strategically important territory.

As for the purpose and method of use, the Mykolaiv Regional State Administration was used exclusively for the needs of governance and the judiciary, serving the needs of the civilian population. Thus, meetings of the supreme military command of the Ukrainian armed forces or units of the territorial defence were not held in the building of the Regional State Administration, weapons were not stored, and units of the armed forces were not quartered.
The presence of Territorial Defence Forces representatives in the immediate vicinity of the RSA and directly in it did not affect the object’s status as a civilian. From the point of view of IHL, the presence of the police or other groups assigned to maintain public order does not make an object a military target.61.
It is also worth noting that in order to define an object as a military objective, its partial or complete destruction, capture, or neutralisation must provide a clear military advantage. Such an advantage must be straightforward and direct, substantial, and relatively close in time. On the other hand, any advantage that is barely perceptible or will be noticeable only after a long period of time is not sufficient to establish that the object is used for military purposes or is intended to strengthen the military capability of the adversary. Taking into account that there were no representatives of Ukrainian military command on the territory of the State
Administration at the time of the shelling, no weapons or military equipment were stored there, and the building was used exclusively to meet the needs of the civilian population, it is impossible to refer to a military advantage that could supposedly be achieved and that would have transformed the State Administration into a military object In addition, Article 52(3) AP I indicates that in case of doubt regarding whether a civilian object is used for military purposes for the purpose of effectively contributing to military operations, there is a presumption that it is not a military objective. Thus, in terms of its purpose and method of use, the Mykolaiv Regional State Administration could similarly not have been considered a military facility.
Therefore, the Mykolaiv Regional State Administration does not meet any of the alternative criteria for it to have been considered a military facility and, accordingly, was a civilian facility.
Thus, the shelling of Mykolaiv Regional State Administration was a war crime.