Russian Missile Identified in Kyiv Children’s Hospital Attack

An analysis of open source evidence, as well as missile experts, have pointed to a Russian launched Kh-101 cruise missile being the weapon that struck a children’s hospital in Kyiv, debunking claims from pro-Russian accounts and actors that denied responsibility and sought to shift the blame for the incident on to Ukraine.

The July 8 attack on the Okhmatdyt Children’s Hospital killed two and injured over 50 others, according to the hospital. However, the full toll of dead and injured remains unknown with individuals reported to still be trapped under rubble.

In the aftermath of the strike, several social media accounts known for spreading disinformation — including that of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs — began to claim that the missile was American-made and that it had been launched from a Ukrainian anti-aircraft missile system. 

Yet an analysis conducted by Bellingcat using social media footage as well as  a 3D model of the missile, all point to the munition being a Russian Kh-101 cruise missile. The analysis is in line with the view of experts, including Fabian Hoffman, a doctoral research fellow at the University of Oslo who specialises in missile technology.  

A screengrab of a tweet by missile technology expert Fabian Hoffman.

Dr. Jeffrey Lewis, a nuclear weapons and missile expert at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey in California, similarly concluded in an email to Bellingcat that a Kh-101 missile could be seen in footage of the attack posted to social media sites.

Bellingcat also tested an alternative theory floated online that the missile was a US-made AIM-120, but found no evidence for this.

The hospital attack came as part of a wider Russian missile barrage that hit civilian targets elsewhere in Ukraine, including the city of Dnipro. According to the Ukrainian Air Force, the attack began at approximately 10:00 AM local time and involved at least 36 missiles, including 13 Kh-101 cruise missiles.

Analysing the Missile Strike Footage

Shortly before noon, reports began to surface claiming that there had been an explosion at the Okhmatdyt Children’s Hospital. These reports were followed by video footage posted to Telegram showing a missile impacting the hospital.

A screenshot from a video from a Telegram channel showing the missile near the moment of impact at the hospital (Source:Telegram)

The video clearly captured the missile that impacted the hospital. The following frames of the missile were taken from the video above.

The image collage above was made using four screenshots from the video shared previously. It shows the missile an instant before it hits the hospital (Source:Telegram

The missile exhibits several characteristics, including the presence of what appears to be a jet engine at its rear as well as two short wings near the middle of the missile.

These are distinct features of the Kh-101, a cruise missile used exclusively by the Russian armed forces. A comparison of a screenshot of the missile that hit the hospital with a 3D rendering of a Kh-101 missile shows that the two indeed share these features.

Left, a 3D model of a Kh-101 missile created by a Bellingcat researcher as seen on Blender, a 3D modelling platform. On the right, a screenshot of the missile that hit the Okhmatdyt Children’s Hospital. Note that the two share identical proportions, as well as the presence of a jet engine at the rear of the missile and two wings near the middle part of the missile’s body (Source: Michael Sheldon/Telegram)

A video overlay of the two images above also demonstrates the matching the features and proportions of the 3D model of the Kh-101 and the missile that hit the hospital.

A video showing the images in the previous graphic overlaid on top of one another. Note that the features in each of the images are a match (Source: Michael Sheldon/Telegram).

Missile Remnants

After the strike, the SBU released three images claiming to show remnants of the munition that hit the hospital. They stated that preliminary findings indicated it was a Kh-101, which appeared to tally with the aforementioned video footage. 

The images showed what appeared to be a support spar and engine panel. Manuals and imagery that documented previous Kh-101 strikes detailed similar remnants. 

For example, the support spar in the image below appeared similar to one found in a 2022 Ukrainian Territorial Defense Forces’ identification manual (page 28) which detailed a previous Kh-101 strike.

On the left is a crop of the support spar in the Territorial Defense Forces’ identification manual. On the right is a crop of a remnant image (flipped horizontally for clarity) released by the SBU after the Kyiv hospital attack. The placement of holes on the SBU remnant (red and blue annotations) as well as the overall shape (yellow annotation) appear to match in both images (Source: Ukraine Territorial Defense Forces/Telegram

Another image showing a yellow panel with the numbers “2983” appears to match with what the same identification manual describes as the Kh-101’s engine cover (page 28, figure 22). The reference image from the manual has another piece that gives a more complete look at the serial number.

Another image showing a yellow panel with the numbers “2983” appears to match with what the same identification manual describes as the Kh-101’s engine cover (page 28, figure 22). The reference image from the manual has another piece that gives a more complete look at the serial number (Source Ukraine Territorial Defense Forces/Telegram).

Additionally, one of the images released by the SBU shows markings on another remnant of the missile that hit the hospital. These markings include the numbers “840708036”, “~234452”, and “45 • 14” . Similar markings using this same format  are also visible on a remnant from a Kh-101 that was descibes as having been shot down over Ukraine on December 29, 2023. Some components were turned into a keychain and put up for sale on a website called AirHubStore:

The image on the left shows a remnant of the missile that hit the hospital as released by the SBU on Monday. The image on the right shows a remnant of a Kh-101 missile for sale on a website called AirHubStore (cropped and rotated for clarity). Note the similar markings (Source: Telegram/AirHubStore)

It is important to note, however, that none of the SBU images were geolocatable on their own given they were closed cropped and did not show surroundings with identifiable features. 

This complicated verifying that these parts had indeed been at the scene.

However, images posted later by the Gazeta.UA news website were geolocatable to the hospital and appeared to show the same munition remnants as detailed in the SBU posts. For example the support spar can be seen under the arm of an investigator below.

A side by side comparison of an image taken at the scene by Gazeta.UA (left) and an image posted by the SBU on Telegram (right). The same piece of equipment appears visible in both (Source:

The engine panel, meanwhile, can also be seen and its shape matched to the item that can be seen in the earlier SBU picture.

A montage showing an image posted to Telegram by the SBU (right) of missile remnants, an image published by (left) that appears to show the same piece of wreckage and (centre) a close up highlighting the similarities of the item in both images(Source:

The full image can be geolocated just a few metres west of the damaged hospital building (50.450632, 30.481437) thanks to other images and videos from the scene captured by Reuters and the Kyiv Post.

For example, this video posted by the Kyiv Post showed another angle from where the image was taken. Bellingcat has blurred the face, but the same individual in military fatigues can even be seen in each respective publication’s footage, as well as the same damaged material.

Right: Stitched footage showing the location (marked in yellow)  where missile debris was photographed by A broken pipe, metal sheet and people at the scene were matched with the image (left). (Source: Youtube/ Kyiv Post).

Similarly, a Reuters photo from the scene captures the same pattern of damage that can be seen in the image that shows the same missile remnants as those posted by the SBU.

Top left and right: An image gives a high resolution view of a wall from a building. The scene shows the same masonry detail (red) and metal rod (blue) seen in the image taken by (bottom left). The wider view of the scene allowed us to confirm the location of this building. (Source: Reuters)

Debunking US Missile Claims

In the aftermath of the explosion, some social media personalities were quick to claim that the missile was not of Russian origin.

Jackson Hinkle, a political activist who has appeared on Russian state media, was one of the individuals who made the incorrect claim that the missile was US-made.

Screenshot of a tweet by Jackson Hinkle claiming without evidence that the missile that hit the hospital was “an American Patriot air defense missile”. The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs made a similar claim later in the day (Source: X/Twitter)

Hinkle has been banned from several social media platforms for spreading false information.

Similarly, War on Fakes — widely regarded as a Russian propaganda and disinformation outlet claimed in a visual analysis that given the length-to-width ratio of the missile, it could not be a Kh-101, but instead an AIM-120 fired from a Ukrainian NASAMS battery. The AIM-120 is produced by the U.S. defence contractor Raytheon Company.

The claim that the missile was an AIM-120 ignores the jet engine prominently hanging from the empennage of the missile that hit the hospital. This highly visible feature is present on the Kh-101, but not on the AIM-120. Furthermore, the wings in the mid-section of the missile that hit the hospital are a mismatch for those on an AIM-120.

At the time of writing this article, War on Fakes’ Telegram post had nearly 800k views, and thousands of shares.

In a follow-up post, War on Fakes claimed that higher quality stills had been edited to make the jet engine of the Kh-101 more prominent, and that in fact the video had shown an AIM-120. However, the jet engine was still visible in lower quality versions of the video, including the ones used in the analysis in this article. 

Another Telegram account, ves.rf (ВЕСЪ.РФ), which has more than 56,000 followers, also made a post attempting to exonerate Russia for the attack. The post, which had been viewed more than 440,000 times and which had been widely reposted on X/Twitter, also claimed that the missile that struck the hospital was an AIM-120. Simultaneously, ves.rf also provided cover for the strike by stating that the children’s hospital was directly next to the Ukrainian State Aviation Service. This would seem to undermine its earlier claims it was not a Russian missile that hit the hospital.

Nevertheless, Bellingcat created a second 3D model to represent an AIM-120 missile to test this theory. When comparing this model to images of the missile that hit the hospital, factors like the forward fins of the AIM-120 not matching were apparent. Additionally, the nose of the AIM-120 is much sharper than that of the missile in the hospital strike video. Perhaps most noticeable is the absence of any component on the AIM-120 matching the jet engine seen at the rear of the missile in the video. 

Left and right, 3D models created by Bellingcat of a Kh-101 and an AIM-120, respectively. Centre, a screenshot from a video showing the missile that hit the hospital. Note that the features of the missile that hit the hospital closely match those of the Kh-101, but not at all those of the AIM-120 model (Source:Michael Sheldon/Telegram)

The difference between the features of the AIM-120 and the missile that hit the hospital are also noticeable in this video overlay.

Note that the features of the AIM-120 missile do not match that of the missile that struck the hospital in Kyiv (Source: Michael Sheldon/Telegram)

The hospital was far from the only target during the Russian attack of July 8. At least twenty people were killed in strikes across Kyiv alone, with city mayor Vitali Klitschko saying that almost 100 had been injured.

In total, at least 41 people were killed across the country as Russian missiles fell on several cities aside from Kyiv, including Kryvyi Rih and Dnipro. 

This latest wave of Russian attacks against Ukraine is among the largest and deadliest in months. Most recently, the Russian armed forces launched hundreds of missiles and drones at cities across Ukraine on December 29 2023 and then on January 2 2024, killing dozens of people and injuring hundreds.

Correction: A previous version of this story mistranslated an SBU Telegram post, stating that three had died in the attack when in fact two had died. The article has been updated to reflect this.

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