The wanton destruction of a civilian town, with no real military value, shocked the world and, just days later, Pablo Picasso began his most famous painting, Guernica. A tapestry of this powerful, shocking work hangs outside the United Nations Security Council Chamber, a reminder to world leaders of the horror of war.
In the early hours of yesterday, dozens of people would have been sleeping in a block of flats in the Ukrainian town of Serhiivka, near Odesa. Far from the frontline, they may have thought they were safe from Putin’s war machine. But, after three Russian missiles hit home, at least 21 people were dead.
“A terrorist country is killing our people. In response to defeats on the battlefield, they fight civilians," said Andriy Yermak, an aide to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Throughout the Ukraine War, Russia has routinely shelled residential areas, levelling vast areas. But, when asked about Serhiivka, the Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov did what Kremlin spokespeople do: he lied. His claim they are only attacking military targets is so blatantly false it hardly bears repeating.
Russian forces have been able to advance in the east of Ukraine because they drop so many bombs it makes urban areas uninhabitable, for soldiers and civilians alike. Their shelling of other parts of the country appears to have little purpose other than to try to weaken morale.
So it would appear that Putin, a mass-murdering terrorist who has usurped the power of a nation, does not understand the concept of “Blitz Spirit”.
With each life taken, he is stiffening Ukrainian resolve to fight him. And he is showing the international community just how important it is to defeat him, whatever the cost.
The bombing of Guernica in 1937 shocked the world, but it did far too little. We must not make the same mistake again.