Kremenchuk shopping mall attack

Russian missile attack in Ukraine

49°4′12″N 33°25′30″E / 49.07000°N 33.42500°E / 49.07000; 33.42500Coordinates: 49°4′12″N 33°25′30″E / 49.07000°N 33.42500°E / 49.07000; 33.42500, 49°4′27.7″N 33°25′40.6″E / 49.074361°N 33.427944°E / 49.074361; 33.427944Date27 June 2022 (UTC+3)TargetKredmash plant and Amstor shopping mall in Kremenchuk
Attack type
Missile strikeDeaths20[1][2]Injured56[3]Perpetrators22nd Guards Heavy Bomber Aviation Division,  Russian Armed Forces
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Video of the strike
Fire after the strike
Ruins of the building

On 27 June 2022, the Russian Armed Forces fired two Kh-22 anti-ship missiles into central Kremenchuk, Poltava Oblast, hitting the Amstor shopping mall and the Kredmash road machinery plant. A fire broke out and the attack killed at least 20 people and injured at least 56.[2] Russian media and officials carried conflicting stories about the attack.

Background

The explosion at the Amstor shopping center was the fifth attack on Kremenchuk since the beginning of the full-scale Russian invasion in February 2022. The attack on 27 June caused the largest number of casualties. The previous attacks had taken place on 2 and 24 April, 12 May and 18 June.[4][5][6][7][8][9]

Prior to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Kremenchuk was an industrial city of about 217,000 inhabitants and the location of the country's largest oil refinery, located some 10 km (6.2 mi) from the mall.[10] The shopping mall that was struck, located in the city center, covered an area of about 1 hectare (10,000 m2).[11]

Attack

According to the Armed Forces of Ukraine, the attack was carried out by Kh-22 anti-ship missiles launched from Russian Tu-22M3 strategic bombers that took off from the Shaykovka air base in the Kaluga region. The missiles were launched over the territory of the Kursk region.[2] According to Ukrainian media, they belong to the 52nd Heavy Bomber Aviation Regiment, of the 22nd Guards Heavy Bomber Aviation Division, commanded by Colonel Oleg Timoshin.[12] Ukrainian Interior Minister Denys Monastyrsky said that the missile hit the far end of the shopping mall.[13] The area of ​​the resulting fire was more than 10,000 square metres (110,000 sq ft) and up to 115 firefighters and 20 fire-fighting appliances were involved in extinguishing it.[2]

A second missile struck the Kredmash road machinery plant, located about 300 m (980 ft) north of the mall.[14][15] The Kredmash plant had been involved in the repair of three armoured personnel carriers (BTR-70s) eight years earlier.[16] Both missiles fell about 450 m (1,480 ft) apart and may have been aimed at the same target, since such distance is within the known limited accuracy of Kh-22 missiles (according to the international security expert Sebastien Roblin, "only half of the shots land within 600 meters of the aiming point").[17]

An employee in the mall told reporters that many felt they were safe at the mall as they were not a place of danger for the Russians and away from front lines. Similar comments were echoed by a shopper who expressed shock that the mall was hit, calling it a safe place with women and children.[18] According to the survivors, an air raid alert sounded several minutes before the strike.[19]

Russia's defence ministry later officially admitted responsibility for the attack, saying that it hit a weapons depot in a nearby factory and that the detonation of munitions caused the fire to spread to the "non-functioning" shopping centre.[20] Those claims were found to be false by multiple organizations.[15][21][22]

On 29 June, the UK Ministry of Defence said, "There is a realistic possibility the missile strike on the Kremenchuk shopping centre on 27 June 2022 was intended to hit a nearby infrastructure target."[23][24] It added, "Russian planners highly likely remain willing to accept a high level of collateral damage when they perceive military necessity in striking a target."[25] A possibility is that, as anti-ship missiles have a different terminal guidance design to land-attack missiles, the missile locked on to the large radar return of the shopping centre's flat metal walls instead of the intended target. That a weapon poorly optimised for the mission was used may be due to Russia depleting its stockpile of more suitable munitions.[26]

Casualties

Dmytro Lunin, Governor of Poltava Oblast, said 20 people were dead, and 56 people were injured.[2][3] 36 people were reported missing.[27] According to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, there were more than 1,000 people inside the mall when the strike occurred.[28]

Investigation

Per reports from independent military experts and researchers with Molfar, a global open sourced intelligence community, the factory and mall were too far apart from one another to cause any fires or explosions. Additional phone messages, which were reportedly from local management of the shopping mall, were found by investigators, which told employees to stay working through air raid alarms. The non-profit online journalism collective Bellingcat used receipts from recent purchases at the mall to prove that the mall had been open prior to the attack.[29]

Reactions

The leaders of the G7 nations described the missile strike as an "abominable attack". "We stand united with Ukraine in mourning the innocent victims", they said in a joint statement. "Indiscriminate attacks on innocent civilians constitute a war crime. Russian President Putin and those responsible will be held to account."[30]

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken called the attack an "atrocity" and said, "The world is horrified by Russia's missile strike today, which hit a crowded Ukrainian shopping mall".[31] British Prime Minister Boris Johnson condemned the "cruelty and barbarism" of the attack and conveyed condolences to the civilians affected, also reaffirming support for Ukraine.[32]

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in his address that the attack targeted the shopping centre intentionally.[33] Ukraine's Foreign Minister, Dmytro Kuleba tweeted that "The attack was a disgrace to humanity and that Russia must face consequences in the form of more heavy arms to Ukraine and more sanctions against Russia."[11] Mayor Vitalii Maletskyi stated the attack hit an area that was "100% certain not to have any links to the armed forces."[34] He called the attack a crime against humanity, and accused Russia of intentionally shelling a central residential area when there were a lot of people around as an intimidation tactic.[35]

Coverage in Russia

On the day of the attack, Russian television did not report it until the Russian Ministry of Defense confirmed that it had happened.[21] Pro-Russian Telegram channels have spread multiple conflicting theories about the missile strike, including the claim that the missile was aimed at a car factory near the mall, that the mall was being used as a military equipment warehouse, or as a base of the Territorial Defense Forces, and that the missile strike is a Ukrainian provocation involving the use of "canned bodies".[36]

On the day after the attack, Russian authorities and state-controlled media issued a number of contradictory statements about the attack, including claims that the attack was "fake" and that the Ukrainians had bombed the mall themselves.[15] Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said that "Russian Aerospace Forces delivered a strike by air-launched high-precision weapons against hangars of weapons and ammunition from the United States and European countries in the area of the Kremenchuk road machinery factory"[37] He also said: "The detonation of the munitions for western weaponry in storage led to a fire in a non-functioning shopping centre next to the factory."[20] These statements have been debunked by the BBC and other media.[15][21][38][22]

Aftermath

Flowers at the memorial

A memorial to those who died in the attack and were wounded was quickly set up near the ruins of the buildings. Residents left items such as lit candles and flowers at the memorial, while others prayed or waited to hear about those still missing from the attack.[18] A three-day period of official mourning was declared in the city.[39]

See also

References

  1. ^ "Війна Росії проти України: обмін полонених Азовсталі, удар по Миколаєву, НАТО визнав Росію своєю загрозою і допоможе Україні - BBC Україна" [Russia's war against Ukraine: exchange of prisoners of Azovstal, blow on Nikolaev, NATO recognized Russia as the threat and will help Ukraine - BBC Ukraine]. BBC News Україна. Retrieved 30 June 2022.
  2. ^ a b c d e "Российская ракета попала в торговый центр в Кременчуге. Погибли 20 человек, десятки раненых" [A Russian rocket hit a shopping mall in Kremenchuk. 20 people died, dozens injured]. www.bbc.com (in Russian).
  3. ^ a b Tondo, Lorenzo; Sauer, Pjotr (27 June 2022). "At least 16 dead as Russian missile hits shopping centre in Ukraine". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 27 June 2022.
  4. ^ "Через обстріл Кременчуцької ТЕЦ близько 180 тисяч людей можуть залишитись без тепла й води" [Due to the shelling of the Kremenchuk CHP, about 180,000 people may be left without heat and water]. www.ukrinform.ua.
  5. ^ "росія використовує в Україні надзвукові ракети типу Х-22, бо її авіація зазнає втрат - Залужний" [Russia uses X-22 supersonic missiles in Ukraine because its aircraft suffer losses - Zaluzhny] (in Ukrainian). Укрінформ. 13 May 2022.
  6. ^ "На Полтавщині знешкодили пів тонни залишків російської ракети" [Neutralized half a ton of remnants of a Russian missile in Poltava region] (in Ukrainian). Суспільне. 14 May 2022.
  7. ^ "Атака РФ на Кременчук на Великдень: ракети влучили у ТЕЦ і НПЗ, загинула одна людина, семеро зазнали поранень — голова ОВА" [Russian attack on Kremenchuk on Easter: rockets hit CHP and refinery, one person was killed, seven were injured - head of OVA]. nv.ua.
  8. ^ "У Кременчуці загасили пожежу на ТЕЦ — ліквідація тривала більше доби" [In Kremenchuk, a fire was extinguished at a thermal power plant - the liquidation lasted more than a day]. poltava.to.
  9. ^ "Вісім ракет вдарили по Кременчуку, постраждалих немає – голова ОВА" [Eight missiles hit Kremenchuk, no one was injured - the head of OVA]. www.radiosvoboda.org (in Ukrainian).
  10. ^ Meitav, Roman (27 June 2022). "Russian missile hits Kremenchuk shopping mall, killing at least 11". The Jerusalem Post | JPost.com. Retrieved 27 June 2022.
  11. ^ a b Picheta, Rob (27 June 2022). "Russian airstrike hits busy shopping mall in central Ukraine". CNN. Retrieved 27 June 2022.
  12. ^ "The shelling of Kremenchuk: the media learned the identity of the pilots who launched rockets at the mall (photo)". ukrainetoday.org. 28 June 2022. Retrieved 29 June 2022.
  13. ^ Terajima, Asami (28 June 2022). "Interior minister: No hope to find survivors under debris of Kremenchuk mall after Russian missile strike". The Kyiv Independent.
  14. ^ Manning, Joshua (28 June 2022). "The Russian missile strike on Kremenchuk,Ukraine, on the afternoon of 27th June saw one missile hit a shopping centre, the other a road machinery plant". www.euroweeklynews.com. Euroweeklynews. Retrieved 28 June 2022.
  15. ^ a b c d "Ukraine war: Kremenchuk shopping centre attack claims fact-checked". BBC News. 28 June 2022. Retrieved 28 June 2022.
  16. ^ "Бійці АТО отримали першу партію снайперських гвинтівок "Форт-301"" [Fighters of anti-terrorist operation received the first party of sniper rifles "Fort-301"]. Новини Чернівці: Інформаційний портал «Молодий буковинець» (in Ukrainian). Retrieved 28 June 2022.
  17. ^ Sebastien Roblin (29 June 2022). "Why Russia Is Using Old Kh-22 Aircraft Carrier-Killer Missiles to Hit Ukraine". 19FortyFive. Retrieved 30 June 2022.
  18. ^ a b "Kremenchuk strike: 'I didn't think they would hit a mall - it's a safe place'". BBC News. 28 June 2022. Retrieved 28 June 2022.
  19. ^ Freeman, Colin (28 June 2022). "'My friends thought air raid alert at shopping mall was a false alarm – now they're dead'". The Telegraph. Archived from the original on 1 July 2022.
  20. ^ a b Seddon, Max (28 June 2022). "Russia claims responsibility for Kremenchuk mall strike". Financial Times. London. Archived from the original on 28 June 2022. Retrieved 28 June 2022.
  21. ^ a b c "Kremenchuk attack latest to get Russian media blackout treatment". the Guardian. 28 June 2022. Retrieved 28 June 2022.
  22. ^ a b Tondo, Lorenzo (29 June 2022). "Evidence contradicts Russian claims about Kremenchuk mall attack". www.theguardian.com. Guardian News and Media Ltd. Retrieved 29 June 2022.
  23. ^ O'Callaghan, Laura (29 June 2022). "UK says Kremenchuk shopping centre missile attack may not have been intentional". The National.
  24. ^ "Defence Intelligence update on the situation in Ukraine - 29 June 2022 - KyivPost - Ukraine's Global Voice". KyivPost. 29 June 2022.
  25. ^ Ministry of Defence (29 June 2022). "Latest Defence Intelligence update on the situation in Ukraine - 29 June 2022". Twitter. Retrieved 30 June 2022.
  26. ^ Bronk, Justin; Reynolds, Nick; Watling, Jack (7 November 2022). The Russian Air War and Ukrainian Requirements for Air Defence (Report). Royal United Services Institute. pp. 30–31.
  27. ^ Lewis, Simon (29 June 2022). "Dozens missing after Russian missile strike on mall kills 18". www.reuters.com. Reuters.
  28. ^ "Russian missile strike kills 16 in shopping mall, Ukraine says". Reuters. 27 June 2022.
  29. ^ Tondo, Lorenzo (29 June 2022). "Evidence contradicts Russian claims about Kremenchuk mall attack". the Guardian. Retrieved 8 July 2022.
  30. ^ Hughes, David (28 June 2022). "Ukraine: Putin's attack on Kremenchuk shopping centre a 'war crime', world leaders say". The Independent. Retrieved 28 June 2022.
  31. ^ Olearchyk, Roman; Brower, Derek (27 June 2022). "Russian missile strike on Ukraine shopping mall draws outcry". Financial Times. The Financial Times Ltd. Archived from the original on 28 June 2022. Retrieved 27 June 2022.
  32. ^ Hughes, David (27 June 2022). "Boris Johnson condemns Putin's 'barbarism' after shopping centre missile strike". Yahoo! News. Retrieved 27 June 2022.
  33. ^ "Deadly missile strike destroys shopping centre in central Ukraine city". CBC. 27 June 2022.
  34. ^ The Associated Press (27 June 2022). "Russian missile strike hits a crowded shopping mall in central Ukraine". NPR. Retrieved 28 June 2022.
  35. ^ "«Время было выбрано максимально точно — час пик». Интервью мэра Кременчуга Виталия Малецкого — о ракетном ударе по торговому центру, при котором погибли 19 человек" [The time was chosen as accurately as possible - rush hour.” Interview with Kremenchug Mayor Vitaliy Maletsky  about a missile attack on a shopping center that killed 19 people]. Meduza (in Russian). 1 July 2022.
  36. ^ "Российские военные ударили ракетами по торговому центру в Кременчуге" [Russian military fired rockets at a shopping center in Kremenchuk]. The Moscow Times (in Russian). 27 June 2022.
  37. ^ "Russian forces strike Ukrainian weapons hangars in Kremenchuk, top brass reports". tass.com. 28 June 2022. Retrieved 28 June 2022.
  38. ^ "Russia's Kremenchuk Claims Versus the Evidence". bellingcat. 29 June 2022. Retrieved 29 June 2022.
  39. ^ "Most of the shopping centre rubble in Kremenchuk has been cleared, mourning declared in the city". news.yahoo.com. Retrieved 28 June 2022.

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