KEY POINTS

  • A Russian rocket strike on the Ukrainian city of Vinnytsia on July 14 killed 26 and severely injured a 7-year-old boy
  • Around 40% of the child's body was covered in burns, 35% of which were third-degree burns
  • The boy has been transferred to a hospital in Germany for special treatment

A Russian artillery strike on a Ukrainian city earlier this month killed dozens of people and injured others, including a 7-year-old boy who received burns to nearly half of his body, according to reports.

The child, identified only as Roman, was among the victims of a July 14 rocket strike on Vinnytsia, a city in central Ukraine located far from the front lines of Russia's ongoing invasion, U.S. government-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) reported.

A Russian submarine in the Black Sea had launched cruise missiles that day, damaging a nine-story office block and striking residential buildings in Vinnytsia, Ukrainian officials said.

Russian forces fired four missiles in total. Half of those missiles were shot down by Ukrainian air defense, according to a report by The Washington Post.

Roman was taken to a hospital in west Ukraine following the Russian strike that affected him. His head, arms and legs were severely damaged in the attack.

Around 40% of Roman's body was covered in burns, 35% of which were third-degree burns, according to Yarema Beznisko, a doctor in Lviv Hospital.

The explosion from the rocket attack had thrown Roman's body and saved him, his father Yaroslav Oleksiv said.

However, Roman's mother, who was with him at the time of the strike, was buried in the rubble and was one of the attack's 26 fatalities.

Roman's mother was identified from her braces, the clothes she was wearing and a DNA test.

"All the bodies they found, from this shock wave, they were all badly burned. It was impossible [to identify anyone]. Many had their limbs ripped off. None of the bodies remained fully intact," Oleksiv was quoted as saying by RFE/RL.

Roman was transferred to a hospital in Germany for special treatment after his condition stabilized. He will need to undergo several difficult operations in the country.

A total of 5,237 civilians, including 348 children, were killed in Ukraine between the start of Russia's invasion on Feb. 24 and Sunday, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights said in its most recent casualty report.

"Most" of the civilian casualties were caused "by the use of explosive weapons with wide area effects, including shelling from heavy artillery, multiple launch rocket systems, missiles and air strikes," according to the agency.

Russian forces have repeatedly been accused of deliberately targeting civilians in its invasion of Ukraine. However, Russia has denied or deflected responsibility for the reported attacks on civilians.

Killing, torturing or taking hostage of non-combatants in war is a violation of the Geneva Conventions.

Meanwhile, the “extensive destruction and appropriation of property, not justified by military necessity [and] carried out unlawfully and wantonly," is considered a war crime under Article 8 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.

A rescue operation was underway to reach those buried under the rubble, said Donetsk regional governor Pavlo Kyrylenko
A rescue operation was underway to reach those buried under the rubble, said Donetsk regional governor Pavlo Kyrylenko AFP / Miguel MEDINA
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