Church in ruins after shelling

Mother of God Joy of All Who Sorrow Orthodox Church in the village Bohorodychne, Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine. The village came under attack by Russian forces in June 2022. 


The Institute for Religious Freedom (IRF Ukraine), a non-governmental human rights organisation founded in 2001 in Kyiv, Ukraine, presented the data on the impact of the war on Ukrainian religious communities during the Summit on International Religious Freedom in Washington, DC on 1 February.

Destruction across all regions of Ukraine

Most churches, mosques, and synagogues were destroyed in the occupied Donetsk (at least 120) and Luhansk (more than 70) regions of Ukraine. The scale of destruction is also high in the Kyiv region (70), where desperate battles were fought in defense of the capital, and in both the Kherson and Kharkiv regions, with more than 50 destroyed religious buildings in each.

Even if the most affected are the eastern regions of the country, damaged religious sites are spread across all of Ukraine, from Kherson in the south to Chernihiv in the north. Russian air strikes on civilian targets, including drone attacks, have affected almost all regions of Ukraine and continue to this day.

The Institute for Religious Freedom also documented many cases of seizure of religious buildings in Ukraine for use as Russian military bases or to conceal the firing positions of Russian troops. This tactic of the Russian military provokes an increase in the scale of destruction of religious sites in Ukraine,” reports IRF Ukraine.

Targeted attacks on religious figures and believers by the Russian military and intelligence services, primarily in the occupied territories of Ukraine, are also documented by IRF Ukraine. Believers and clergy often became targets for Russian occupation authorities because of the Ukrainian language, belonging to a different denomination, or for any other manifestation of Ukrainian identity.

Churches in Ukraine destroyed by Russian attacks

Churches in Ukraine destroyed by Russian attacks (from left): Cathedral of the Archangel Michael in Mariupol; Church of the Ascension of the Lord in Bobryk village, Kyiv region; St. George's Church in Zavorychy village, Boryspil Diocese, Kyiv region.


All religions and denominations affected

According to the State Service of Ukraine for Ethnic Affairs and Freedom of Conscience, at least 307 religious sites in Ukraine were ruined during the 11 months of Russias attacks, including churches, mosques, synagogues, educational, and administrative buildings of Ukraines religious communities.

The majority of the religious sites damaged during the Russian invasion are Christian (297), five of them are Muslim, and five Jewish.

Thirty of the sites affected belong to various Protestant communities, 21 to the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, five to the Roman Catholic Church, four to the Greek Catholic Church, and 95 to the Jehovahs Witnesses.

Forty-eight percent of all Christian religious sites that were fully or partially ruined during the Russian attacks—142 sites—belong to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, which declared its independence from the Moscow Patriarchate of the Russian Orthodox Church after its council meeting on 27 May 2022.

As of 1 February, UNESCO has verified damage to 238 cultural sites in Ukraine since 24 February 2022, which include religious buildings, museums, historic and cultural buildings, monuments, and libraries.

Institute for Religious Freedom: Almost 500 religious sites were destroyed in Ukraine as a result of Russian aggression

Russian attacks on religious freedom in Ukraine: 2022 Report by the Institute for Religious Freedom

State Service of Ukraine for Ethnic Affairs and Freedom of Conscience: Report on the religious sites ruined in Ukraine, including the interactive map

Damaged cultural sites in Ukraine verified by UNESCO

Interior of the destroyed church

Second St. Mitrofanov Church in Lysychansk, in Luhansk region of Ukraine, damaged by Russian missile strikes in 2022.