Russian missiles struck a shopping mall in Kremenchuk, Ukraine, leaving more than a thousand civilians fleeing for safety from a massive fire in a horrific attack denounced by the US.
“The occupiers launched a missile strike at shopping center,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said, according to Nexta TV news. “There were more than a thousand civilians. The mall is on fire, rescuers are extinguishing fire, number of victims is unimaginable.”
Fire crews raced to extinguish a blaze that appeared to consume much of the mall structure. Local authorities in Kremenchuk said at least 13 people have been killed and 59 people were injured, according to the Kyiv Independent, although those numbers are likely to grow.
The Ukrainian Air Force said the shopping center was hit by Kh-22 missiles launched by Russian Tu-22M3 bombers.
—KyivPost (@KyivPost) June 27, 2022
—NEXTA (@nexta_tv) June 27, 2022
Video from the scene showed shoppers trying to escape the billowing smoke inside the mall as first responders arrived.
Emergency workers try to extinguish a fire after a Russian strike on a shopping mall in Kremenchuk, Ukraine, Monday, June 27, 2022.
Kremenchuk is a city on the Dneiper river in central Ukraine, about five hours southeast of the capital of Kiev, and removed from the frontlines of combat in Ukraine’s south and east.
Ukraine’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dmytro Kuleba, called Russia a “disgrace to humanity” and said they “must face consequences.
“The response should be more heavy arms for Ukraine, more sanctions on Russia, and more businesses leaving Russia,” Kuleba said on Twitter.
—Valerie Hopkins (@VALERIEinNYT) June 27, 2022
Zelenskyy addressed this week’s G7 summit remotely, urging the countries’ leaders to send more air defense systems and push to end the war this year. In his address, Zelenskyy said “the Russian state has become the largest terrorist organization in the world. And this is a fact.”
The attack comes amid a bevy of recent Russian cruise missile strikes on areas far from the battlefield, which some analysts have assessed as targeting critical infrastructure.
Russia carried out as many as 60 airstrikes over the weekend in Ukraine, a senior US defense official told Reuters. The official said it was unclear whether the large number of strikes was intended to respond to the G7 meeting or the arrival of the first US-built HIMARS rocket launchers in Ukraine.
Russia’s deputy representative to the UN, Dmitry Polyansky, said there were “many inconsistencies in Kremenchuk” and that it looked like “a provocation a la Bucha.”
In April, after weeks of Russian occupation, hundreds of bodies were discovered in mass grave sites in Bucha, a suburb of the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv. An analysis of satellite images by the New York Times found that bodies appeared around Bucha well before Russian forces withdrew, despite the Russian’s assertion that the bodies were “staged.”
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the attact on the shopping mall was “the lastest in a string of atrocities” and vowed that the US would continue to support Ukraine and hold Russia accountable for its actions.
During the 4-month war, Russian missiles have hit health care centers, residential buildings and even a theater in Mariupol, where an 600 people taking shelter are estimated to have died.
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