By Isa Cox March 1, 2022 at 4:22pm
As the Russian offensive against Ukraine continues, leaders in the besieged nation are reporting a chilling phenomenon that they say could be perpetrated by pro-Russian operatives on the ground hoping to aid attacks on civilian targets, contrary to Russia’s promise not to spill innocent blood.
According to authorities from the capital city of Kyiv as well as the western town of Rivne, eerie marks are appearing on the sides of residential buildings and other structures which could serve as possible targets for Russian airstrikes.
Citizens are being urged to cover them up as quickly as possible, as many have reportedly been spotted on civilian high-rises.
“The city authorities are asking the residents of high-rise buildings, who have access to the roof access, to urgently check the roofs for signs,” Kyiv’s official city Facebook account recently warned, as reported by The New York Post.
“If any marks are found, please cover them with earth or cover them with something,” the post adds.
Rivne’s mayor Alexander Tretyak shared a similar warning on social media.
“URGENT ANNOUNCEMENT! I ask the heads of condominiums to close all attics. If you or the occupants of the house notice in the entrance, on the roof, near the houses of unknown persons, the mark of the label – immediately inform law enforcement,” he wrote on Facebook.
“URGENTLY inspect your roofs, in case you find marks, paint them and close the access to the roofs.’’
“Tags on wood can be either painted or [covered] with reflective tape. The paint must be smeared with dirt, knocked down or covered with some objects,” another warning noted, according to the Australian Associated Press.
Will Russia leave civilians alone?
Kyiv resident Anastasia Russo, who spoke to the AAP, says she has seen saboteurs spray painting the “targets,” crosses and circles, on her street and elsewhere in the city.
It is suspected that the symbols are used to help guide Russian aerial attacks.
Local residents, including children, are scrambling to thwart such efforts if this is indeed the case.
“Many people are walking around the streets, even children, looking for these marks… we are doing everything we can to cover them,” Russo said.
She also explained that she has been piling sandbags and making fuses for Molotov cocktails and that, as there is no bomb shelter near her, she has been forced to shelter in her bathroom in the event of an air raid.
“There is no bomb shelter around this house so my only hope is the bathroom is strong enough to protect me,” she told AAP.
Russo, who is from a Russian-speaking family, also said she’s helping Ukraine’s fight by combating Russian disinformation on social media.
“Russia says they do not attack civilians – that’s a lie,” she said.
Russia has insisted that they do not intend to target civilians, with the Russian defense ministry stating as recently as Tuesday, as Insider reported, that their tactical strikes against Ukrainian military targets pose no threat to civilians.
On Monday, however, a deadly missile attack on a residential area in Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, raised concerns that as Russia grows more aggressive in its assault, the civilian death toll will rise, according to The New York Times.
Targets painted on the side of residential high-rise buildings also bolster the case that Russia is displaying little concern for civilian life and may even be deliberately targeting homes — if the markings are indeed being painted by pro-Russian saboteurs coordinating with the Russian military, that is.
While there’s no doubt that Russia’s offensive on Ukraine has been ruthless, it is important to bear in mind that many of the stories coming out of Ukraine over the last week have later been debunked, so let’s take this story with a grain of salt and sincerely pray for the preservation of civilian life as the invasion continues.
We do not know how the next few days, weeks or (hopefully not) months will go for Ukraine, Russia and the rest of the global community with regard to this war, but we do know, thanks to centuries of documented human history, that man’s inhumanity to man often appears to know no bounds.
Let’s pray that Russia’s attack on Ukraine doesn’t end up adding a horrific new chapter to the history books in this regard.