Chernihiv: Image Shows Russia Missile Crater at Former Yuri Gagarin Stadium

Russian military attacks in the Ukrainian city of Chernihiv have left an enormous crater in a stadium that was once named after one of Russia's most famous people from history—Yuri Gagarin, the first human to fly to space.

Chernihiv, located about 90 miles north of Ukrainian capital Kyiv, has been under assault by Russian forces for weeks.

Harrowing reports of civilian casualties, including amongst families attempting to get to safety, have emerged from the violence.

crater
A huge crater from Russian shelling at the former Yuri Gagarin stadium. Getty Images

On Monday, journalist Tim Judah, a Balkans correspondent for The Economist, posted a photo on Twitter showing a vast crater left behind in the Chernihiv Stadium, once known as the Yuri Gagarin Stadium.

Judah said the crater, which appears to be several feet deep, was left behind by a Russian missile and is "amongst the biggest I've seen." In the background, debris litters the grass pitch while the stadium's seating rows close to the blast area have been devastated.

Chernihiv Stadium
More destruction seen outside of the Chernihiv stadium in Ukraine on April 5, 2022. Sergei Supinsky/AFP/Getty

Images of the destruction have also been shared by local soccer team FC Desna Chernihiv, which called the stadium their home. Shelling of the stadium had occurred at least as far back as mid-March.

The stadium subject to the shelling was once named after Yuri Gagarin, the Soviet cosmonaut who became the first person to travel into outer space. His flight took place on April 12, 1961—61 years ago today.

Gagarin's flight was one of the most momentous in the history of the Soviet Union, achieving a milestone in the space race that would propel him into the spotlight. The Chernihiv Stadium was renamed after him in 1961, and he visited the site in 1964.

The stadium, which is now officially known as the Olympic Training and Sports Center, is still often referred to as the Yuri Gagarin stadium.

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Chernihiv has been just one area of Ukraine where civilians have been subject to the violence of occupying Russian forces. The BBC reported evidence of Russia targeting a water pumping station in Chernihiv on March 14. The head of the plant, Serhiy Malyavko, told the outlet that three family members and a worker had been killed there: "I'm 100 percent sure that the Russian troops have been destroying the city's infrastructure so that there would be no gas, no electricity or water supply in the city," he said.

On April 8, CNN reported at least 350 civilians were killed in Russia's bombardment of Chernihiv, citing authorities. The number is expected to increase.

Chernihiv Stadium
The Chernihiv stadium in Ukraine, formerly named after Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, seen here on April 5, 2022, wrecked by Russian attacks. Sergei Supinsky/AFP/Getty

Last week, a Pentagon official told The Washington Post that Russian forces appeared to have retreated from Chernihiv—but the destruction left in their wake still remains.

Elsewhere, Russia's invasion of Ukraine continues. In an intelligence update posted on Twitter on April 12, the U.K.'s Ministry of Defense said Russian attacks were "focused on Ukrainian positions near Donetsk and Luhansk with further fighting around Kherson and Mykolaiv and a renewed push towards Kramatorsk."

The Ministry of Defense also said it expects fighting in eastern Ukraine to intensify over the next two to three weeks as Russia focusses its efforts there.

On Monday, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) said between the start of Russia's invasion on February 24 and April 10 it had recorded at least 1,842 civilian deaths in Ukraine, including 28 girls and 50 boys as well as 70 children whose sex was not yet known. The actual figures are thought to be considerably higher.