Russia has once again shown on Monday the ferocity with which it is leading the war in Ukraine. The kyiv authorities have denounced this Monday a missile attack against a shopping center full of people in the city of Kremenchuk, in the center of the country. “The mall is on fire. Firefighters try to extinguish the fire. The number of victims is impossible to imagine”, the president, Volodímir Zelenski, has written in his Telegram account. Dmitri Lunin, Governor of Poltava, has confirmed at least 10 dead and more than 40 wounded.
“I was at home washing the dishes when I heard a tremendous explosion. It was all very fast. I ran out to reassure my dog, who was very nervous with the noise,” Catarina Jolod, whose house is about a ten-minute walk from the attacked shopping center, tells EL PAÍS. “I called my mother and she couldn’t answer me. We are all very nervous and scared”, adds this student who is now on vacation in Kremenchuk, where her family lives. Jolod explains that the establishment attacked is in the center of the city, very close to the train station. And she shows her surprise at what happened, since this is the first attack on her city since Vladimir Putin’s troops began the invasion of Ukraine on February 24.
The images of the attack show a column of smoke with flames that firefighters try to put out, while several people run around the attacked establishment. “The occupiers fired rockets at the shopping center, where there were more than 1,000 civilians,” Zelensky added in his Telegram message. In one video, a man is seen on the phone saying, “There were people inside the building. The walls are starting to come down.”
Kremenchuk’s name could soon be added to the list of horrors that occurred in this war—such as the Bucha and Irpin massacres. Although the authorities initially reported two deaths and later raised them to ten, the figure may increase in the coming hours.
Yuri Ignat, spokesman for the Air Force command, assured the media Ukrayinska Pravda that Russia had attacked Kremenchuk with an X-22 missile fired from a Tu-22M3 long-range bomber positioned on the Russian city of Kursk. “At the moment we know that there are 20 injured, nine of them in serious condition. It has already been confirmed that two people have died. The rescue operation is underway,” added Deputy Chief of Staff Kirilo Tymoshenko.
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“Russia continues to transfer its helplessness to ordinary citizens. It is useless to expect decency and humanity on their part”, the president assured. “[El centro comercial] it did not pose any danger to the Russian army nor did it have any strategic value. There were only people trying to lead a normal life, which infuriates the occupants,” Zelensky added.
Kremenchuk, an industrial city that had 217,000 inhabitants before the Russian invasion last February, has the largest oil refinery in Ukraine.