Photos: Kharkiv, Ukraine, once a thriving city, decimated by Russia's war

·3 min read

Not long ago, Kharkiv, Ukraine, was a thriving metropolis. With sprawling parks, botanical gardens and a zoo, Ukraine's second largest city was the vibrant home of nearly 1.5 million people who were free to take in opera and ballet performances, food and drink at popular local pubs, or even a ride on the city's giant Ferris wheel.

An aerial view of Kharkiv, Ukraine, before Russia's invasion. (Getty Images)
An aerial view of Kharkiv, Ukraine, before Russia's invasion. (Getty Images)
Scenes of daily life in Kharkiv, Ukraine, before Russia's invasion, clockwise: A Ferris wheel at Maxim Gorky Central Park; Kharkov National Academic Opera and Ballet Theater; a Champions League football at Metalist Stadium; and Shevchenko City Garden.
Scenes of daily life in Kharkiv before Russia's invasion: Maxim Gorky Central Park, Kharkov National Academic Opera and Ballet Theater, Champions League football at Metalist Stadium and Shevchenko City Garden. (Ihor Bondarenko/Getty Images, Evgeniy Maloletka/AP, Gleb Garanich/Reuters, Pierre Crom/Getty Images)

Now, three weeks into Russia's military invasion of Ukraine, Kharkiv has been left decimated by shelling that has forced scores of its residents to flee or seek shelter underground.

Over 600 buildings in the city have been destroyed, Mayor Ihor Terekhov said Tuesday. They include schools, nurseries and hospitals. "The Russian army is constantly shelling us from the ground and the air," he said.

Photos from Kharkiv show the large-scale destruction caused by Russia's ongoing assault.

According to the United Nations, at least 726 civilians have been killed in Ukraine since Feb. 24, when Russia’s military invasion began, though U.N. officials caution that the actual death toll is likely to be much higher.

The New York Times reports that at least 500 civilians have been killed in Kharkiv alone since the start of the war.

A firefighter passes in front of a building still ablaze after Russian bombing.
Firefighters work to extinguish a fire caused by the shelling of a building in Kharkiv on Monday. (Diego Herrera Carcedo/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
A mannequin in a blue dress stands in the blown-out window of a building damaged by shelling in central Kharkiv.
A mannequin stands in the blown-out window of a building damaged by shelling in central Kharkiv on Monday. (Vitalii Hnidyi/Reuters)
A blue and gold Ukrainian flag stands upright amid rubble left by shelling in Kharkiv, Ukraine, on Monday. (Wolfgang Schwan/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
A devastated cityscape in Kharkiv on Monday, after Russian shelling. (Wolfgang Schwan/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
A tram that was upended by shelling, surrounded by debris.
A tram damaged by shelling is seen in Kharkiv on March 12. (Andrew Marienko/AP)
An elementary schoolroom piled with rubble, with a dinosaur height chart intact on a cabinet.
A view inside a damaged kindergarten in Kharkiv on Monday. (Oleksandr Lapshyn/Reuters)
The empty shell of a building obliterated by Russian bombing.
A building obliterated by shelling in Kharkiv on Monday. (Wolfgang Schwan/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
Shards of plate glass frame the damage caused by shelling in a deserted cafe.
Damage caused by shelling at a cafe in Kharkiv on March 12. (Andrew Marienko/AP)
Exposed apartments in a building whose facade was blown off.
A view of destroyed apartments in Kharkiv on Sunday. (Andrew Marienko/AP)
The wreckage of an apartment damaged by shelling, with clothes piled on a couch and streamers of wallpaper dangling..
An apartment damaged by shelling in Kharkiv on Sunday. (Andrew Marienko/AP)
A wrecked office building framed by a blown-out window.
A destroyed office building in the center of Kharkiv on Sunday. (Diego Herrera Carcedo/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
A man carries belongings out of a heavily damaged apartment building
A man carries belongings out of a heavily damaged apartment building in Kharkiv on Sunday. (Sergey Bobok/AFP via Getty Images)
A couple in winter jackets pass a store that was damaged by shelling.
People walk next to a store that was damaged by shelling in Kharkiv on Tuesday. (Oleksandr Lapshyn/Reuters)
Cars and buildings destroyed by shelling
Cars and buildings destroyed by shelling in Kharkiv on Monday. (Oleksandr Lapshyn/Reuters)
A hole in the roof of a tram.
A hole in the roof of a tram in Kharkiv on Monday. (Oleksandr Lapshyn/Reuters)
An interior view of an apartment damaged by an airstrike.
An interior view of an apartment damaged by an airstrike in Kharkiv on Tuesday. (Vitalii Hnidyi/Reuters)
Firefighters extinguish flames after a rocket attack.
Firefighters extinguish flames after a rocket attack in Kharkiv on Monday. (Pavel Dorogoy/AP)
Using a ladder to the top floor of a shelled residential building, rescuers evacuate a woman.
Rescuers evacuate a woman from a residential building damaged by an airstrike in Kharkiv on Tuesday. (Vitalii Hnidyi/Reuters)
Portraits of French actor Jean-Paul Belmondo on the wall in a destroyed apartment, in a building damaged by shelling, in Kharkiv, Ukraine, Sunday, March 13, 2022. (Andrew Marienko/AP)
Portraits of French actor Jean-Paul Belmondo on the wall of an apartment damaged by shelling in Kharkiv on Sunday. (Andrew Marienko/AP)
A view of buildings in a 19th-century style damaged by shelling in Kharkiv.
A view of buildings damaged by shelling in Kharkiv on March 4. (Oleksandr Lapshyn/Reuters)
A person sits alone in the basement of a school in Kharkiv.
A person sits in the basement of a school in Kharkiv on Tuesday. (Andrea Carrubba/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

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