Frontline City Neighborhoods: How Much of Kharkiv is Destroyed

Tetiana Fram - 30 June 2023 | 16:20

How much of Kharkiv is destroyed? In this text, we take you on a tour through Kharkiv neighborhoods to show how the city lives now.

As a city close to Russia’s border, Kharkiv was attacked in the first minutes of the full-scale invasion. The residents woke up to the first explosions around 5 a.m. on Feb. 24, 2022. On the night of Feb. 26, there were cases of a defense breakthrough; several enemy tanks entered Kharkiv, were destroyed, and Ukrainian troops regained control over the territory. The battles for Kharkiv lasted from Feb. 24, 2022, to Sept. 11, 2022. However, Russians have continued constant rocket attacks on the city since then.

Nikolsky shopping center opening, May 2021 / Photo: Denys Glushko, Gwara Media

The street musicians’ melodies, the crowd rumbling, and the fountain water splashes are how Kharkiv sounded before the full-scale invasion. After Feb. 24, it changed to dead silence, screaming, and crying. And the sounds of explosions: artillery, Iskanders, S-300, and air bombs, Russians seem to attack Kharkiv with everything they had.

Today, on the city streets, the traces of Russian aggression are perhaps among the most visible in Ukraine. Although the shelling of last year’s spring has subsided, Kharkiv continues to be regularly shelled from Russian Belgorod, which is 40 kilometers away.

How much Kharkiv destroyed: war city
Empty Kharkiv streets, March 2023 / Denys Glushko, Gwara Media

Modern Kharkiv is divided into nine districts. Residents say that there is no safe area in the city and no single neighborhood that was not affected by Russian attacks. So how much of Kharkiv has been destroyed since the beginning of the full-scale war?

The most affected Kharkiv district Saltivka

The Saltivka residential area is considered to be the largest in Ukraine. It is located on the territory of three administrative districts, Saltivskyi, Kyivskyi, and Nemyshlianskyi. The massif includes two parts, Saltivka and Northern Saltivka neighborhoods.

The district, located east of the city, began actively developing in the second half of the last century. A third of Kharkiv residents, about 400,000 people, lived here before the full-on war.

How much Kharkiv destroyed: Saltivka
High-rise building in Northern Saltivka in April 2022 / Photo: Oleksandr Magula, Gwara Media

Northern Saltivka, the closest to the border with the Russian Federation, became the main target of the invaders and suffered significant damage during the first months of the full-on war. It has become a painful illustration of Russian aggression and a symbol of Kharkiv residents` resilience.

“The big buildings have no water, no electricity, the windows are blown out and everything. And there are still a few people living there! They are cooking outside and sitting outside. But they have their little gardens with flowers and everything kept in order too. That’s really kinda a little bit of normalcy still kept going,” said Austrian volunteer Sylvia after delivering humanitarian aid to Saltivka.

How much Kharkiv destroyed: Saltivka
Houses in Northern Saltivka are being dismantled and restored after shelling, February 2023 / Photo: Oleksandr Magula, Gwara Media

According to the Kharkiv Mayor, about 500 houses in Kharkiv cannot be restored after the Russian shelling, and almost 300 of them are located in Northern Saltivka. Last year, about 135 houses were restored, 66 of which were severely damaged.

“We are restoring what is important. We have a destroyed area of Northern Saltivka. Now you can see a lot of construction cranes there, because we are building, we don’t stop. We will direct all means and efforts to restore everything the enemy destroyed,” Kharkiv Mayor Ihor Terekhov emphasized in an interview with the RBK-Ukraine publication.

How much Kharkiv destroyed: Saltivka
Houses in the Northern Saltivka neighborhood are being dismantled and restored after shelling, February 2023 / Photo: Oleksandr Magula, Gwara Media

Some houses in this neighborhood remain without water and gas – sometimes, it is impossible to restore them due to damaged communications. However, Northern Saltivka is slowly being rebuilt.

“Only at the end of March did I notice that more people appeared in the area. We have already opened two ATMs in Northern [Saltivka]. And already two ATBs [ATB, the local chain supermarket – ed.], come on! Life is coming back, even though there is a black district in the background of ATB, which has simply burned out,” says Kharkiv artist Artem Elf, who lives in Northern Saltivka.

How much Kharkiv destroyed: Saltivka
High-rise building in Northern Saltivka in April 2022 / Photo: Oleksandr Magula, Gwara Media

It is symbolic that the Russians, with such zeal, destroyed the area called the Moscow district until May 22, 2022. The building of the Skovoroda Pedagogical University in the Saltivka neighborhood was severely affected by the Russian attack on the night of July 6, 2022.

How much Kharkiv destroyed: universities
The destroyed building of the Pedagogical University named after Skovoroda / Photo: Serhii Prokopenko, Gwara Media

Also read: Sasha came from Japan to see her damaged house in Kharkiv

How much of Kharkiv is destroyed in Shevchenkivskyi district

Shevchenkivskyi district in the northern part of the city is the second most populous after Saltivskyi. It boasts many green areas – Central Park, Sarzhyn Yar, Oleksiivskyi Luhopark, Shevchenko Park, and the Kharkiv University botanical garden.

How much Kharkiv destroyed: parks
Consequences of the Russian missile attack on Kharkiv’s Central Park, Feb. 7, 2023 / Photo: Oleksii Yeroshenko, Gwara Media

Moreover, important historical buildings are located in the Shevchenkivskyi district. Among them are University Hill, Pokrovskyi Monastery, Freedom Square, Historical Museum, Memorial, Derzhprom building, Palace of Labor, Palace of Marriage, “Ukraine” movie concert hall, and one of the world’s most significant monuments to Shevchenko.

The Shevchenkivskyi district in Kharkiv was heavily damaged. In particular, the Russians shelled the Oleksiivka neighborhood with artillery and cluster munitions prohibited for those nations that ratified the Convention on Cluster Munitions. The area was attacked until September 2022 — the beginning of the counteroffensive of the Ukrainian military.

Consequences of a rocket strike on March 15 in the Shevchenkivskyi district in Kharkiv / Photo: Oleksandr Magula, Gwara Media

Moreover, Russians hit the area of Klochkivska Street and Nauky Avenue. On March 5, due to the Russian aviation strike, the Unifecht sports complex of Karazin University, located on Otakar Yarosh Lane, was severely damaged.

How much Kharkiv destroyed: sport facilities
Unifecht fencing center after the Russian airstrike / Photo: Vlad Sakovich, Kharkiv Regional Military Administration

Kyivskyi district in Kharkiv

Kyivskyi is the city’s central district, the Kharkiv downtown, with administrative buildings and business centers. The main street of Kharkiv, Sumska, separates the Kyivskyi and Shevchenkivskyi districts. The Russians repeatedly hit the center with S-300 and cruise missiles.

The first strike was recorded on the morning of March 1. Two cruise missiles hit the Kharkiv Regional State Administration building. More than 20 people, including volunteers and bystanders, became victims of the attack. The building was seriously damaged and will have to be completely reconstructed.

The next day, the Russians attacked the buildings where the National Police Office, the Security Service of Ukraine (SSU), and the Economy School of Karazin University were located. In a few hours, Russia attacked Constitution Square, located next to the building of the Kharkiv City Council.

As a result of the airstrike, the Dormition Cathedral, the Church of the Holy Myrrh-Bearers, and the church on Universitetska Street were damaged. Moreover, the enemy hit Myronosytska Street, and residential buildings were destroyed due to shelling.

A destroyed building in the center of Kharkiv / Photo: Oleksandr Magula, Gwara Media
Rocket attack on the center of Kharkiv aftermath / Photo: Oleksandr Magula, Gwara Media
How much Kharkiv destroyed: city center
A destroyed building in Kharkiv, Myronosytska, 32 / Photo: Denys Glushko for Gwara Media
Shelling aftermath in Kharkiv city center / Photo: Serhii Prokopenko. Gwara Media

On Feb. 25, the Russian forces shelled the Piatykhatky neighborhood, located on the very outskirts of Kharkiv. A Russian Grad multiple rocket launcher was destroyed near the Karazin University’s School of Physics and Technology building, damaging it. In a few days, residential buildings were also shelled.

How much Kharkiv destroyed: residential buildings
Piatykhatky after the shelling / Photo: Kharkiv City Council

The University of Urban Economy building was also seriously damaged. On Feb. 5, several S-300 rockets destroyed the upper floors of the building.

Beketov University after the shelling / Oleksandr Magula for Gwara Media

Industrial Kharkiv: Kholodnohirskyi district

Kholodnohirskyi (Kholodna Hora) district in the northwestern part of the city mainly contains industrial facilities. The street Poltavaskyi Shlach stretches along it for 6,5 km. The city’s largest railway stations, the Southern Railway Department and the Metro Department are located in this area. Moreover, the district boasts 64 industrial enterprises.

The Russian forces have repeatedly targeted objects in the Kholodnohirskyi district, including industrial buildings, warehouses, and critical infrastructure.

Consequences of the Russian attack in Kholodnohirskyi district, December 2022 / Photo: Gwara Media
Consequences of the Russian attack in Kholodnohirskyi district, December 2022 / Photo: Gwara Media

On Sept. 2, 2022, Russian troops hit the Lokomotiv sports complex with S-300 missiles. The swimming pool and the boxing club were destroyed.

How much Kharkiv destroyed: sports complex
Lokomotiv sports complex destroyed by the Russians, Sept. 2, 2022 / Photo: Gwara Media
Lokomotiv sports complex destroyed by the Russians, Sept. 2, 2022 / Photo: Gwara Media

How much of Kharkiv is damaged: Slobidskyi district

Slobidskyi district was created in the middle of the last century. Residential neighborhoods occupy one-third of the area, and the rest includes industrial and infrastructure facilities. A large part of the territory is landscaped with parks and squares.

The district ranks fifth in the city in terms of population after Saltivskyi, Shevchenkivskyi, Kyivskyi, and Industrial districts.

On the morning of Feb. 24, the Russians attacked the Kharkiv airport in the Slobidskyi district. After that, the occupiers hit the neighborhood’s infrastructure facilities and private houses.

Strike on Gagarin Avenue in Kharkiv, March 2022 / Photo: Trukha

How much of Kharkiv is destroyed in Osnovianskyi district

The district was formed at the beginning of the last century. Industrial and transport enterprises and construction organizations operate in the neighborhood.

The Russians have repeatedly targeted critical infrastructure and residential buildings in this part of the city.

Consequences of the rocket attack on Kharkiv on Feb. 16 / Photo: Oleksandr Magula, Gwara Media

Kharkiv neighborhoods: Novobavarskyi district

The district was formed in 1924; at that time, it was called Zhovtnevyi (“October” in honor of the October Socialist Revolution). However, in 2016, the district, like several others, was renamed as part of the decommunization process.

Novobovarskyi district private residential buildings make up 80% of the entire private residential sector of the city. Moreover, a large part of Kharkiv’s industrial enterprises is located here.

The Russians have repeatedly targeted critical infrastructure and residential buildings in the district.

Consequences of the March 31 rocket attack on Kharkiv / Photo: Oleksandr Magula, Gwara Media

Kharkiv city districts: Nemyshlianskyi district

Nemyshliansky district is the youngest among Kharkiv districts. Well-known industrial enterprises operate here, including JSC Turboatom, CJSC Zavod Pivdenkabel, JSC Khladoprom, and JSC Budinvest.

On April 2 last year, the production facilities of Turboatom and the Kharkiv Electromechanical Plant came under enemy fire.

How much Kharkiv destroyed: factories
How much of Kharkiv is destroyed: consequences of the Russian attack on factories in Kharkiv, April 2, 2022 / Photo:

How much of Kharkiv is damaged in Industrial district

Industrialnyi, or Industrial Kharkiv district, was formed when the construction of the Kharkiv Tractor Plant on the city’s southeastern outskirts began. Later, machine tools and tile factories were built, as well as “Poligrafmash” and “Electrovazhmash” plants.

In the same period, construction of an airfield near the Rogan station began. Industrial, construction, and transport enterprises are currently operating in the district.

Russians shelled the Horizont micro-district area from aircraft, Kharkiv Tractor Plant (KhTZ) district was also affected.

Consequences of shelling of KhTZ, Sept. 8, 2022 / Photo: Gwara Media
How much Kharkiv destroyed: KhTZ
Consequences of shelling of KhTZ, Sept. 8, 2022 / Photo: Gwara Media

How much Kharkiv is destroyed: city restoration

The estimated scale of damage caused to Kharkiv due to Russian shelling reaches $9 billion.

“A bit more than $9 billion damage so far. But that’s a rough estimation, and I’ll explain why. Here is the projectile hitting the ground. It seems that there is not even any destruction. But there are utility systems underground! Any contact of the projectiles with the ground causes pipe deformation. Today you don’t see it, but tomorrow you realize that part of the pipeline is missing,” Terekhov said.

Meanwhile, the works on the restoration of residential buildings continue. According to Terekhov, last year, 185 facilities that had been damaged by shelling were already reconstructed. The restoration of Northern Saltivka, one of the most affected Kharkiv districts, is also underway.

More than 4,500 houses were damaged in Kharkiv, 500 of which cannot be restored, added the mayor.

Moreover, during the 11 months of the full-scale war in Kharkiv Oblast, more than 18,000 buildings were destroyed, including 8,000 residential buildings.

by Polina Kulish

translated and edited by Tetiana Fram

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