Russian missiles hit a crowded shopping center in Ukraine

KREMENCHUK, Ukraine – Russian long-range bombers fired a missile that hit a crowded shopping mall in the central Ukrainian city of Kremenchuk on Monday, raising concerns about what President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called a number victims of “unimaginable” in “one of the most daring terrorist attacks in European history.”

Zelenskky said more than 1,000 civilians were inside the mall, with many managing to escape. Pictures from the scene showed huge plumes of black smoke, dust and orange flames, with emergency crews rushing to find broken metal and concrete for victims and put out the flames. Viewers crash.

The number of casualties is difficult to determine as rescuers search the smoldering wreckage. The governor of the region, Dmytro Lunin, said at least 13 people had died and more than 40 were injured.

At Ukraine’s request, the United Nations Security Council scheduled an emergency meeting in New York on Monday night to discuss the attack.

The missile attack broke out as Western leaders pledged to continue supporting Ukraine and the world’s major economies in preparing new sanctions against Russia, including oil price caps and taxes. higher regard for goods. Meanwhile, the United States appears ready to respond to Zelenskyy’s call to strengthen its air defenses, and NATO plans to increase the size of its rapid response force by almost eight times – to 300,000.

Zelenskyy said the mall had “no threat to the Russian military” and had “no strategic value”. He accused Russia of undermining “the people’s efforts to lead a normal life, which infuriated the occupiers.”

In his nightly address, he said it appeared Russian forces had purposely targeted the mall and added, “Today’s Russian attack on a shopping mall in Kremenchuk is one of the most daring terrorist attacks in European history.”

Russian Tu-22M3 long-range bombers flying over Russia’s western Kursk region fired a missile that hit a shopping mall as well as another missile that hit a training ground in Kremenchuk, according to Ukrainian officials.

The Russian attack carries the echo of earlier attacks in the war that caused many civilian casualties – such as the one in March at the Mariupol theater, where many civilians had taken refuge, that killed many civilians. about 600 people, and another in April on a train station in the east. Kramatorsk left at least 59 dead.

“Russia continues to commit acts of helplessness against civilians. Zelenskyy says that it is useless to hope for decency and humanity.

Kremenchuk 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 United Nations called the attack “reprehensible”, stressing that civilian infrastructure “should never be targeted”, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said. Leaders of the Group of Seven released a statement late Monday condemning the attack and saying that “indiscriminate attacks on innocent civilians constitute a war crime. Russian President Putin and those responsible will be held accountable.”

The attack occurred as Russia was conducting an all-out assault on Ukraine’s last stronghold in Luhansk province in eastern Ukraine, “barking” the city of Lysychansk from the ground and from the air, according to the local governor. direction. At least eight people were killed and more than 20 injured in Lysychansk when a Russian missile hit an area where crowds gathered to collect water from a tank, Luhansk Governor Serhiy Haidai said.

The attacks in the east are part of an intensifying assault by Russian forces to capture the eastern Donbas region from Ukraine. Over the weekend, Russian troops and their local separatist allies forced Ukrainian government troops out of Lysychansk’s neighboring city, Sievierodonetsk.

To the west of Lysychansk on Monday, the mayor of Sloviansk – potentially the next major battleground – said Russian forces had fired cluster munitions, including one that hit a residential area. Authorities said the number of victims has yet to be confirmed. The Associated Press witnessed one death: A man’s body was hunched over a car doorframe, his blood spilling to the ground from wounds to his chest and head. The blast blew out most windows in surrounding apartment buildings and parked cars below, strewn with shards of broken glass.

“Everything is destroyed now,” resident Valentina Vitkovska said in tears as she spoke of the explosion. what happened to us. “

Prior to Monday’s attacks, at least six civilians were killed and 31 others injured as part of intense Russian shelling on various Ukrainian cities over the past 24 hours – including including Kyiv and major cities in the south and east of the country, according to Zelenskyy’s office. Monday’s shelling in Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second largest city, killed at least five people and wounded 15.

Russian forces continue to target the key southern Black Sea port of Odesa. Ukrainian authorities said a rocket attack destroyed residential buildings and injured six people, including a child.

In Lysychansk, at least five high-rise buildings and the last road bridge were damaged in the past day, Haidai said. An important highway linking the city with government-held territory to the south was impassable. The city’s pre-war population of about 100,000 has dwindled to less than 10,000.

Analysts say that Lysychansk’s position high on the banks of the River Siverskiy Donets gives the Ukrainian defenders a big advantage.

“It’s a very hard seed to break. Military analyst Oleh Zhdanov said the Russians could take months and efforts to attack Lysychansk.

In another development, in the Bavarian Alps of Germany, the leaders of the G7 countries announced a plan to seek new sanctions and pledged to continue to support Ukraine “as long as necessary”. In a joint statement on Monday after they held a video session linked to Zelenskyy, the leaders emphasized their “unwavering commitment to support the government and people of Ukraine in ensuring defend the sovereignty and territorial integrity of their country”.

In another development, Washington is expected to announce the purchase of an advanced surface-to-air missile system for Ukraine.

In Brussels, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg announced plans to significantly expand the alliance’s rapid response force as part of the bloc’s response to the “era of strategic competition”. NATO’s response force currently has about 40,000 troops. NATO will agree to provide more military assistance to Ukraine – including secure communications and anti-drone systems – when its leaders convene in Spain for a summit later this week, Stoltenberg said.

The UK Ministry of Defense has said that Russia is likely to rely more and more on reserves in the coming weeks. Analysts say Russia’s call for reservists could dramatically shift the balance in the war but could also lead to negative political consequences for President Vladimir Putin’s government.


Karmanau reports from Lviv, Ukraine. Oleksandr Stashevskyi of Kyiv, Ukraine, contributed to this report.


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