A Russian missile attack hit a crowded shopping mall in the city of Kremenchuk, central Ukraine, killing at least 10 people and injuring 40, senior Ukrainian officials said.
Monday’s attack sparked a massive fire and sent black smoke billowing into the sky, footage showed by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
“Ten people died and more than 40 were injured. This is the current situation in Kremenchuk as a result of the missile attack,” said Dmytro Lunin, head of the Poltava administration.
Firefighters and soldiers were seen removing scraps of metal as they searched for survivors.
“We don’t understand how many people are left under the rubble,” the head of the regional rescue agency said on television.
Another act of the Russian genocide of the Ukrainian people. This time, the ruscists target a shopping mall in #Kremenchuk, in the afternoon when it’s always especially crowded. War criminals wanted to kill civilians, deliberately aiming for maximum casualties. pic.twitter.com/3PbCnjc7PU
– Defense of Ukraine (@DefenceU) June 27, 2022
Zelenskyy said the mall “does not pose any threat to the Russian military” and has “no strategic value”. He accused Russia of sabotaging “people’s efforts to lead a normal life, which infuriated the occupiers”.
“Russia continues to commit acts of helplessness against civilians. It is useless to hope for decency and humanity on our part,” he said.
Al Jazeera’s Charles Stratford, reporting from Kyiv, said about half of the injured were being treated in hospital.
“Ukrainians are saying that there is no strategic target that can be targeted in this attack,” Stratford said.
“What we do know is that the city’s bridge yesterday was hit by a Russian shell, according to the Ukrainian military, and at least one person was killed and five others injured.”
Describing “horrifying images” of flames and smoke rising from the mall, Stratford said, “The Kremlin tells the world that they are trying to avoid civilian casualties in this war.
“Kremenchuk is about 200 kilometers from the southern front line and about the same distance to the east,” he said.
Mayor Vitaliy Maletskiy wrote on Facebook that the attack “hit a very crowded area where it is 100% certain that there is not any link to the armed forces”.
The attack drew condemnation from Ukrainian officials, including foreign chief executive Dmytro Kuleba, who called for more heavy weapons to be sent to Ukraine and further sanctions on Russia.
The large shopping mall in Kremenchuk with hundreds of civilians inside was affected by a Russian attack. Russia is a disgrace to humanity and it must face the consequences. The response should be heavier weapons against Ukraine, more sanctions on Russia, and more businesses leaving Russia. pic.twitter.com/Uvi6fbyShK
– Dmytro Kuleba (@DmytroKuleba) June 27, 2022
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the attack on the mall showed “the depth of cruelty and barbarism” of Russian leader Vladimir Putin.
“Putin must realize that his behavior will do nothing but strengthen his resolve that the UK and every other G7 country will stand with Ukraine for as long as necessary,” he said.
Russian attack escalates
The attack comes as Russia is conducting an all-out assault on Ukraine’s last stronghold in Luhansk province, eastern Ukraine, “barrage” on the city of Lysychansk from the ground and from the air, according to the local governor. direction.
Russian forces appear to be stepping up longer-range attacks on the country after forcing Ukrainian troops out of the neighboring city of Severodonetsk in recent days.
Meanwhile, Western leaders continued their steadfast commitment and continued support for Kyiv.
NATO will agree to provide more military support to Ukraine – including secure communications and anti-drone systems – when the bloc’s leaders convene in Spain for a summit on Thursday. Tuesday, according to the Secretary-General of the military alliance, Jens Stoltenberg.
The battle for Severodonetsk and Lysychansk is part of Russia’s intensifying offensive to wrest control of the wider Donbas region from Ukraine.