On March 2, 2022, Russian armed forces fired a missile that hit V.N. Karazin Kharkiv National University’s Faculty of Economics, destroying the building. It is not clear whether there were any injuries or fatalities associated with the attack.
The missile attack was part of an offensive by Russian forces, who were six days into an invasion of and armed aggression against Ukraine. Similar missile strikes have been carried out in neighboring parts of the city, including the city center.
Scholars at Risk is concerned about the destruction of university facilities in armed conflict. Parties to a conflict may only attack legitimate military targets. Where a party suspects that a civilian facility — such as a university building — is being used for military purposes, that party has a duty to take every action practicable to verify that this suspicion is correct before initiating an attack. In the event of such an attack, parties must take all practicable precautions to avoid or minimize damage to civilian facilities. Further, parties must refrain from launching attacks which may be expected to cause disproportionate damage to civilian facilities.