‘Many dead’ as Russian missile hits Ukrainian shopping mall with more than 1,000 inside

·4 min read
Smoke and flames engulf the shopping centre after the missile strike
Smoke and flames engulf the shopping centre after the missile strike

A Russian missile destroyed a crowded shopping mall in central Ukraine on Monday, continuing Vladimir Putin's attacks on civilians living far behind the frontline.

The missile strike appears to form part of an aggressive new Russian strategy. Over the past three days, its missiles have hit several civilian sites lying hundreds of miles from Ukraine's main battlegrounds, including an apartment block in Kyiv.

Volodymyr Zelensky, the Ukrainian president, said that there were "a thousand people" inside the Amstor shopping mall in Kremenchuk when the missile struck in the middle of the afternoon.

"The mall is on fire, firefighters are trying to extinguish the fire, the number of victims is impossible to imagine," he said on his Telegram channel.

Videos on Twitter showed flames and black smoke billowing out of the shopping mall and civilians helping overwhelmed emergency service crews load people into ambulances. A fire engine donated by Humberside Fire and Rescue doused flames.

Firefighters at the scene of the attack - State Emergency Service of Ukraine/Shutterstock
Firefighters at the scene of the attack - State Emergency Service of Ukraine/Shutterstock
Ukraine - STR/UKRAINE EMERGENCY MINISTRY PRESS/AFP/Getty Images
Ukraine - STR/UKRAINE EMERGENCY MINISTRY PRESS/AFP/Getty Images

In one video shot from inside the shopping mall, a man steps over broken glass and rubble to escape a smoke-filled room. For one moment, the camera pans across a small, motionless body.

Dmitry Lunin, the mayor of Kremenchuk, said that at least 16 people had been killed in the attack and 40 injured but that these totals were expected to climb.

"In Kremenchuk, a civilian target was hit and there are civilian deaths, unfortunately," he said.

G7 leaders condemn 'brutal attack'

In a joint statement, leaders of the G7 said Vladimir Putin's attacks aimed at civilians were a "war crime".

The statement said: "We, the leaders of the G7, solemnly condemn the abominable attack on a shopping mall in Kremenchuk. We stand united with Ukraine in mourning the innocent victims of this brutal attack.

"Indiscriminate attacks on innocent civilians constitute a war crime. Russian President Putin and those responsible will be held to account.

"Today, we underlined our unwavering support for Ukraine in the face of the Russian aggression, an unjustified war of choice that has been raging for 124 days."

They said they would "continue to provide financial, humanitarian as well as military support for Ukraine, for as long as it takes".

"We will not rest until Russia ends its cruel and senseless war on Ukraine."

Kremenchuk is an important industrial city of around 220,000 people lying on the Dnieper River. It is the base for a truck plant, an oil refinery, a railway carriage plant and a hydroelectric dam.

Russian missiles have hit the oil refinery three times previously, destroying it. The most recent attack was in mid-June.

Boris Johnson, who was attending the G7 summit in Bavaria which has been dominated by talks on how to support Ukraine, said that the attack should strengthen the West's resolve.

"This appalling attack has shown once again the depths of cruelty and barbarism to which the Russian leader will sink," he said.

In the past three days, Russia has fired missiles at what it has described as legitimate logistics targets in Ukraine. On Saturday it hit Ukrainian army training centres around Kyiv and on Sunday it fired cruise missiles at several other sites hundreds of miles from the Kharkiv and Donbas battlegrounds.

The Russian Ministry of Defence has said that it targets infrastructure with high-precision missiles but it has also destroyed an apartment block in central Kyiv for the first time since April. At least two people were killed in the attacks.

Mr Putin had promised to strike "new targets" after Britain and the US pledged to send new long-range missile systems to Ukraine earlier in June, but Russia has been accused of targeting civilians deliberately to undermine morale.

Street battles in Lysychansk

In the Donbas, Russian officials said that street battles were now being fought in and around Lysychansk after Russian soldiers completed their conquest of the neighbouring town of Severodonetsk over the weekend.

Lysychansk is the last town in the Luhansk region that is not under the control of Russian forces. The Luhansk region makes up half of Donbas, with Donetsk making up the second half. Mr Putin has made capturing Donbas a priority.

The British Ministry of Defence also reported that Russian forces had increased their offences around Izyum, to the northwest of Lysychansk, and in Ukraine's southern Kherson region, Ukrainian officials have said that Russian soldiers were kidnapping and torturing civilians to try to counter assassination attempts by partisans. Last week, a car bomb killed a senior Kremlin-installed official in Kherson city.

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