A school destroyed by a Russian rocket in Zhytomyr

Saint Sophia’s Cathedral at sunrise in Kiev, Ukraine, on Feb. 15 (Ethan Swope/Bloomberg/Getty Images)

Ukraine’s Culture and Information Policy Minister Oleksandr Tkachenko called on Friday “to close the skies over Ukraine, because Russian aggressors are destroying Ukrainian cultural sites.”

“Most of Putin’s war crimes in Ukraine were committed from the air,” the ministry said in a statement.

“Russian missiles and planes are deliberately destroying the historic centers of major cities. Putin wants to destroy the heritage and culture of Europe, to erase them from the face of the earth.”

“A crazed dictator is threatening to destroy St. Sophia’s Cathedral in Kyiv, a UNESCO church built in the 11th century,” the ministry warned.

“Hundreds of innocent victims, the total destruction of churches, cathedrals and museums – is the price of the still open skies over Ukraine.”

The ministry said that in the city of Kharkiv, Russian forces shelled the Cathedral of the Assumption; parts of Kharkiv National University of Arts; and the dormitories of the Kharkiv State Academy of Culture. People had used the cathedral as a refuge from violence, the ministry said.

In Ivankov, near Kiev, the museum of “the world famous artist Maria Pryimachenko, whose works were admired by Pablo Picasso” was also bombed. The Kyiv State Academy of Decorative Arts and Design was also damaged by the “occupiers”.

While “ordinary Ukrainians are stopping Russian tanks with their bare hands,” the ministry said, “Russian missiles and planes continue to baselessly and dishonestly bombard our beautiful, peaceful cities.”

“The world must stop this,” the ministry added.

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