Bombed Out and Occupied

Russia’s Invasion of Izyum

The Ukrainian city of Izyum, about 75 miles south of Kharkiv and north of Donetsk, was once famous for its annual strawberry festival. It now might be best known as a place of ferocious battles and mass graves.

Izyum is in the Kharkiv oblast, where Ukraine borders Russia. Its importance as a railway hub made it a key focus for the invading army.

Within days of Russian’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine at the end of February 2022, the city came under intense attack. It took a month for Russian forces to take control of Izyum on April 1, 2022. On September 11, after the city was occupied for six months, Izyum was retaken in a major Ukrainian military success.

Both battles for Izyum left many dead and much of the city in ruins. More than 80 per cent of residential buildings are estimated to have been destroyed. Local officials say that at least 1,000 people were killed during the battles and occupation.

As international media focuses on major cities, how people lived in hamlets and villages under intense bombardments, and under months of Russian occupation, is underreported.  In May 2023, Human Rights First released a report on how the village of Tsyrkuny, north of Kharkiv, survived Russian occupation.



  • Brian Dooley

Published on June 28, 2023


Related Posts

Seeking asylum?

If you do not already have legal representation, cannot afford an attorney, and need help with a claim for asylum or other protection-based form of immigration status, we can help.