Russia has bombed a busy shopping mall in eastern Ukraine, with outraged president Volodomyr Zelensky warning: “It is impossible to even imagine the number of victims.”
Around a thousand people were shopping at the Kremenchuk mall in the Poltava district when it was hit by missiles on Monday afternoon local time (early Tuesday AEST). According to early accounts, at least ten people were killed and numerous others were injured.
"Missile strike on a shopping mall containing people in Kremenchuk is yet another military crime by the Russians," Poltava leader Dmytro Lunin declared. a wrongdoing against people. This is a clear-cut case of terrorism against unarmed civilians. It is illegal to travel to Russia.
Rescuers and police officers are on the scene. It is now hard to estimate the number of victims.
A enormous fireball consumed the center, a favorite gathering place for the 200,000 residents of the city, at 3.20 p.m. local time. Video shows horrified onlookers and then firefighters rushing to put out the fire as inside walls fall.
The attack is just the latest in a long line of atrocities by the Russian government against clear civilian targets in Ukraine, including the Mariupol theater, Kramatorsk train station, and Mariupol maternity hospital.
When Mr. Zelensky learned of the destruction, he was giving a video speech to the G7 conference in Bavaria, Germany. "Russia strikes retail center in Kremenchuk, while thousands inside," he tweeted.
He had been pleading with the leaders of the world for further assistance to help finish the war "before winter sets in," including long-range weapons, anti-aircraft defense systems, and security assurances. Additionally, he urged for increased assistance with grain exports from the nation and funding for rehabilitation.
Dmytro Kuleba, the foreign minister of Ukraine, called the Russian attack on Kremenchuk, which contained hundreds of civilians, "a disgrace to humanity" and urged that Russia must take responsibility.
"More heavy weapons for Ukraine, more sanctions against Russia, and more firms leaving Russia should be the response," he stated.
Russian military have previously attacked Kremenchuk, including the city's oil refinery 10 days earlier.
The attack, according to Mr. Zelensky, was intended to thwart people's attempts to lead regular lives, "which make the occupiers so upset," even though the shopping center posed no threat to the Russian army and had no strategic significance.
Boris Johnson, the British prime minister, criticized Vladimir Putin's "cruelty and savagery," but asserted that it would encourage the G7 to support Ukraine for "r as long as it takes."
"This awful incident has once again demonstrated the depths of depravity and savagery to which the Russian leader will descend," said Mr. Johnson.
"Once more, our thoughts are with the Ukrainian families of the innocent victims.
“Putin must realize that his behavior will do nothing but strengthen the resolve of Ukraine and every other G7 country to stand by Ukraine for as long as it takes.”
A weapons storage was bombed, and the fire quickly spread to the shopping center.
According to the Russian Defense Ministry, an attack on an arsenal detonated ammunition, which caused the shopping center to catch fire.
"A high-precision strike was carried out against Western-manufactured weaponry and ammunition stacked in the warehouse to be transported to a Ukrainian military formation in Donbas," the ministry reported.
Officials from Ukraine have disputed the presence of a neighboring weapons store.
On the other side of a factory building, around 600 meters north of the shopping center, CCTV footage indicates two missile strikes in the vicinity.