Kyiv (Times Of Ocean)- The war in Ukraine has damaged dozens of cultural sites, including churches, historic buildings, and museums.
UNESCO said last month it had strengthened its protections for Ukraine’s cultural heritage in the wake of the Russian invasion, such as using the “Blue Shield” emblem to identify its cultural sites and monuments.
“We are very concerned about both the situation at the humanitarian and [cultural] heritage levels. Humanity’s heritage is in danger [in Ukraine],” Ernesto Ottone, UNESCO’s assistant director-general for culture, told a news conference on Friday.
According to UNESCO, 29 religious sites, 16 historic buildings, four museums, and four monuments have been damaged in Ukraine.
Some of the sites damaged by Russian fire include more than a dozen sites in the eastern Kharkiv region, including churches and more modern heritage sites.
There are five in Ukraine’s capital Kyiv, and five in the Chernihiv region of northern Ukraine, which has a number of historic sites.
UNESCO Director General Audrey Azoulay reminded Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov of Russia’s obligation to protect cultural heritage during conflict in a letter sent on March 17.
In the event of a violation of these norms, the perpetrators will be held accountable on a global scale, she said, adding that UNESCO would closely monitor the state of cultural heritage in Ukraine.
After initially claiming Moscow had not responded, UNESCO later claimed it had received an answer in which Russia said it was aware of its obligations and was committed to them.
This week, Moscow, which describes its actions in Ukraine as a “special military operation” to demilitarise the country, said it would reduce offensives near Kyiv, the capital, and Chernihiv, nearby.
Kyiv and its allies say that Russia is pulling its troops out of those areas not as a gesture of goodwill, but to regroup.