Russian missile strike on Kyiv’s Children’s Hospital: missile identified, fakes debunked

Russian propaganda spreads false information about the missile attack on the Okhmatdyt children’s hospital. Analysts conclude that the Russians are doing everything possible to avoid admitting guilt in the alleged war crime.

On July 8, Russia launched a massive missile attack on Ukraine, and a devastating missile strike hit the Okhmatdyt Children’s Hospital in Kyiv, leading to high casualties and huge damage. 

Russia’s fake news about the missile attack on Okhmatdyt

Following the assault, Russian sources, including the ministry of defense and state propaganda media, started spreading false versions. OSINT analytics and fact-checkers debunked Russian fakes and identified the missile type, providing proof. 

The Institute for War Studies stated that the Russians are spreading lies about the missile strike, contrary to the facts. The Center for Countering Disinformation at the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine also warned about Kremlin propaganda efforts. 

“Russian officials and information space actors are attempting to deflect responsibility for the Okhmatdyt Children’s Hospital strike by making false claims about the missiles involved and the state of the hospital — all contrary to available evidence”, the ISW wrote in the latest report.

A video taken by a bystander in Kyiv after the first strike shows the second before a Russian missile struck the Okhmatdyt Children’s Hospital—Ukraine’s largest pediatric hospital that treats thousands of patients, including cancer cases, the ISW reported.

The analysts spotted a list of Russian fake news disseminated following the deadly attack on the children’s hospital.

Russian fake news about the Okhmatdyt missile attack

  • The missile that hit the medical facility was Ukrainian, not Russian.
  • Okhmatdyt hospital was used to treat wounded Ukrainian soldiers.
  • Ukraine stored missiles in the Okhmatdyt hospital.
  • A Ukrainian air defense missile damaged civilian objects in Kyiv.
  • The Okhmatdyt hospital is a military facility, not a civilian one.
  • A Russian missile accidentally hit the hospital while trying to hit the Artem plant.

“Russian officials and media players are trying to deflect responsibility for the attack on the Okhmatdyt children’s hospital. They are making false claims about the missiles used and the condition of the hospital, all of which contradict the available evidence,” ISW reported.

Official statements and investigations

Ukrainian authorities, including the Security Service of Ukraine, have identified the missile as a Russian Kh-101 air-launched high-precision cruise missile. 

High-resolution imagery and expert analysis, which revealed the missile’s distinct characteristics, support this conclusion.

The Security Service of Ukraine has classified the strike as a war crime and opened a criminal investigation, citing evidence such as missile fragments and serial numbers found at the scene.

The strike was condemned by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who called on the international community to provide a strong response.

During a press conference with Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk, Zelenskyy stated, “We will retaliate against these people. We will undoubtedly deliver a powerful response from our side to Russia. The question to our partners is: Can they respond?

Russian allegations debunked

Following the deadly strike, Russian authorities, pro-Russian media, and social media channels disseminated fake news, claiming the missile was actually a Ukrainian air defense missile or that the hospital was not directly hit.

Multiple sources, including independent analysts and investigative bodies, have debunked these assertions. Videos and pictures clearly show the direct impact of the missile, and the severe damage to civilian infrastructure is undeniable.

According to the official investigation’s version and to many analysts and OSINT experts, the Russian troops used a Kh-101, a long-range, precision-guided cruise missile, in the attack on the children’s hospital.

It is known for its turbojet engine and pylon-mounted tail section, which were visible in the video footage of the attack. 

“Russia has directly hit the toxicology department of Okhmatdyt National Children’s Hospital in Kyiv. This incident appears to be a deliberate strike rather than an intercepted missile, based on the available information,” the reputable OSINT account GeoConfirmed reported.

GeoConfirmed also addressed claims regarding the visibility of wings on the missile. It wrote that a comparison between known footage from the Russian defense ministry and the footage from this attack provides some insight.

“The missile’s wings are partially visible in recent attack footage. The visibility of the missile’s wings is dependent on two key factors: the angle of observation and the quality of the video footage,” the experts said.

The the video of a Kh-101 launch released by the Russian defense ministry, the wings are also not clearly visible. GeoConfirmed claimed that the lack of wing visibility does not necessarily rule out the possibility that it is a Kh-101 missile.

“Only a thorough investigation can definitively determine the exact type of missile, but based on the available footage, a Kh-101 remains a plausible possibility. The visual evidence does not exclude this type of missile, and the characteristics observed are consistent with those of a Kh-101,” GeoConfirmed concluded.

An investigative journalist, Julian Röpcke, added: “Typical Kh-101 shape is well visible in this image, taken one second before the impact at the children’s hospital.” 

Another commenter added: “You can also add the fact that in the second video we can hear the missile, and it sounds exactly like a Kh-101 (jet engine hissing). AD missiles don’t make this kind of sound.”

Initial claim of Russian propaganda: hospital hit by debris

The Kremlin propaganda media, including Sputnik, and the Russian defense ministry spread fake news just hours after the attack, claiming that falling debris caused the damage. 

Eyewitness video unequivocally demonstrated that a Russian missile directly struck the hospital, not debris. Subsequently, the Russians shifted their narrative to a claim that this was an air defense missile. However, this misinformation was quickly refuted.

Urgent need for air defense capabilities

The Russian missile attack underscores the urgent need for enhanced air defense systems for Ukraine, a point repeatedly emphasized by Ukrainian defense minister Rustem Umerov. 

The EU diplomacy chief, Josep Borrell, reacted to the Russian missile attacks that killed and injured dozens of people and destroyed Kyiv’s largest children’s hospital, Okhmatdyt, emphasizing that Ukraine needs air defense and that all those responsible for Russian war crimes will be brought to justice.

“Russia keeps ruthlessly targeting Ukrainian civilians. Today’s air attacks have killed and wounded dozens, as well as destroyed Kyiv’s largest children’s hospital, Okhmatdyt. Ukraine needs air defense now. All responsible for Russian war crimes will be held to account.”

Josep Borrell, EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security

The missile strike on Okhmatdyt Children’s Hospital is a horrible reminder of the brutal realities of the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine and Russia’s assaults on energy and civilian facilities.

The escalation in missile strikes by Russian troops, including low-altitude flights and sophisticated countermeasures, makes it increasingly difficult for Ukrainian air defenses to intercept all incoming threats.

As the global community rallies to support Ukraine, the need for advanced defensive capabilities and a unified stance against aggression remains critical and urgent.

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