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At least 13 dead as Russia attacks Ukrainian shopping centre

At least 13 dead as Russia attacks Ukrainian shopping centre

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eaders of the G7 have condemned the deadly Russian missile attack on a Ukrainian shopping centre as a “war crime” and warned that Russian President Vladimir Putin “will be held to account”.

At least 13 people have died and 50 were injured after two Russian missiles hit a shopping centre in the Ukrainian city of Kremenchuk.

In a joint statement, leaders of the G7 who are currently at a summit in Germany, said they “solemnly condemn the abominable attack”.

“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.”

President Volodymyr Zelensky said there were 1,000 civilians in the building at the time of the attack.

“The mall is on fire, firefighters are trying to extinguish the fire, the number of victims is impossible to imagine,” the country’s leader said on Telegram.

The mall posed “no danger to the Russian army” and posed “no strategic value” to the Russians, Mr Zelensky added.

Handout picture taken and released by the Ukraine’s State Emergency Service

/ Ukraine’s State Emergency Servic

He said: “People only wanted to live a normal life, which is what angers the occupiers so much.

“Out of helplessness, Russia continues to hit ordinary people. It is vain to expect it to be reasonable or humane.”

Dmytro Lunin, governor of the central Poltava region, said 10 people had been confirmed killed and rescue workers would keep searching through the smouldering rubble for two days, with more bodies likely to be found.

“It’s an act of terrorism against civilians,” he said separately, suggesting there was no military target nearby Russia could have been aiming at.

Worried family members, some close to tears and with hands over their mouths, lined up at a hotel across the street from the mall where rescue workers had set up a base.

Kiril Zhebolovsky, 24, was looking for his friend, Ruslan, 22, who worked at an electronics store and hadn’t been heard from since the blast.

“We sent him messages, called, but nothing,” he said. A mall worker who gave his name as Roman, 28, told Reuters the mall’s management had only three days ago allowed shops to remain open during air raid sirens.

Ukraine’s air force command said the mall was hit by two long-range X-22 missiles fired from Tu-22M3 bombers that flew from Shaykovka airfield in Russia’s Kaluga region.

Russia’s deputy ambassador to the United Nations, Dmitry Polyanskiy, wrote on Twitter, without citing evidence, that the attack was a “Ukrainian provocation.”

Rescuers at the site of a shopping mall hit

/ Via REUTERS

“Exactly what Kiev regime needs to keep focus of attention on Ukraine before (the) NATO Summit,” he said, referring to the alliance’s Madrid gathering due to begin on Tuesday

Kremenchuk, an industrial city of 217,000 before Russia’s invasion, is the site of Ukraine’s biggest oil refinery.

Boris Johnson condemned Vladimir Putin’s “cruelty and barbarism” after the attack.

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

“Once again our thoughts are with the families of innocent victims in Ukraine. Putin must realise that his behaviour will do nothing but strengthen the resolve of the Ukraine and every other G7 country to stand by the Ukraine for as long as it takes.”

It came the day after Russia attacked the Ukrainian capital Kyiv for the first time in weeks, with missiles striking at least two residential buildings.

Mr Zelensky’s office said at least six civilians had been killed and 31 injured as part of intense Russian shelling against various Ukrainian cities over the past 24 hours – including Kyiv and major cities in the country’s south and east.

It said Russian forces fired rockets that killed two people and injured five overnight in and near Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, and continued to target the key southern port of Odesa.

A missile attack destroyed residential buildings and injured six people, including a child, it said.

In Lysychansk, at least five high-rise buildings and the last road bridge were damaged over the past 24 hours, the local governor said.

Serhiy Haidai said a crucial highway linking the city to government-held territory further south was rendered impassable because of shelling which made the evacuation of civilians increasingly.

The city had a pre-war population of around 100,000, approximately a tenth of whom remain.

Analysts say Lysychansk’s location high on the banks of the Siverskiy Donets river, as well as its large area dotted with hills, give a major advantage to the city’s Ukrainian defenders.

The river encloses Lysychansk from the north and east, while the Ukrainian army continues to hold territory west of the city, which it uses to supply arms and humanitarian aid.

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