(working paper, co-authored with Scott Gates) Retaliatory Strikes: Russian attacks on healthcare in Ukraine
The images of the massacred civilians in Bucha showed that Russia committed war crimes during its war against Ukraine. Recent studies on the micro-dynamics of conflicts have advanced our understanding of when and why civilians are attacked in irregular warfare, but the dynamics of modern interstate warfare are less understood.
In this article, we ask when and why Russia targeted civilian infrastructure in Ukraine, with a specific focus on attacks against healthcare. We propose that Russia primarily directs its attacks on healthcare following its own battlefield losses. Such actions undermine the healthcare system, which not only poses long-term public health risks but also deprives already vulnerable populations of critical care. By disrupting healthcare services, Russia penalizes both the Ukrainian civilian population and the Ukrainian military, which relies on these services to treat its wounded soldiers.