© Reuters. Rescuers work at the site of a shopping center hit by a Russian missile strike, while the Russian attack on Ukraine continues, in Kremenchuk, in the Poltava region, Ukraine, June 27, 2022. Picture taken on June 27, 2022. REUTERS / Anna Voitenko
By Simon Lewis
KREMENCHUK, Ukraine (Reuters) – Firefighters and soldiers searched for survivors in the ruins of a mall in central Ukraine on Tuesday after a Russian rocket strike killed at least 16 people in an attack condemned by the United Nations and the West.
Family members of the missing lined up at a hotel across the street where rescue workers set up base after Monday’s strike at a busy shopping mall in Kremenchuk, southeast of Kiev.
More than 1,000 people were inside when two Russian missiles fell on the mall, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said. At least 16 people were killed and 59 were injured, the Ukrainian emergency service said.
“This is not an accidental hit, this is a calculated Russian strike exactly on this shopping center,” Zelenski said in an evening video address. He said the death toll could rise.
More than 40 people have been reported missing, Ukraine’s chief prosecutor’s office said.
A survivor who is being treated at a public hospital in Kremenchuk, Ludmila Mihajlets, 43, said she was shopping with her husband when the blast blew her up.
“I flew with my head and the bits hit my body. The whole place was falling apart,” she said.
“It was hell,” added her husband Mykola, 45, as blood trickled through the bandage wrapped around his head.
Russia did not comment on the attack, but its deputy ambassador to the United Nations, Dmitry Poljanski, accused Ukraine of using the incident to gain sympathy ahead of the June 28 and 30th summit of the NATO military alliance.
“We have to wait for what our Ministry of Defense will say, but there are already too many conspicuous disagreements,” Poljanski wrote on Twitter (NYSE :).
The United Nations Security Council will meet on Tuesday at the request of Ukraine following the attack. UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said the rocket attack was “stinging”.
Leaders of the Group of Seven (G7) Great Democracies, at a summit in Germany, said the attack was “disgusting”.
“Russian President Putin and those responsible will be held accountable,” they wrote in a joint statement posted on Twitter by a spokesman for the German government.
BATTLE FOR LISIČANSK
In second place on the battlefield, Ukraine endured another difficult day after losing the now-destroyed city of Sierrodonetsk after weeks of bombing and street fighting.
Russian artillery beat Lisichansk, the twin city of Sijerodonetsk, across the Siversky Donets River.
Lisichansk is the last major city still held by Ukraine in the eastern province of Lugansk, the Kremlin’s main target after Russian troops failed to capture the capital Kiev at the start of the war.
A Russian rocket attack on Monday killed eight people and wounded 21 in Lisichansk, said the regional governor of that area, Sergei Gaidai. There was no immediate Russian comment.
The Ukrainian military says Russian forces are trying to cut off Lisichansk from the south.
Rodion Miroshnik, the ambassador of the People’s Republic of Lugansk in Moscow, said that Russian troops and their allies from the Luhansk Republic were advancing west to Lisichansk and that street battles had broken out around the city stadium.
Fighting took place in several villages around the city, and Russian and allied troops entered the Lisichansk oil refinery, where Ukrainian troops were concentrated, Mirosnik said on his Telegram channel.
Reuters could not confirm Russian reports that Moscow troops had already entered the city.
Russia also shelled the city of Kharkiv in northeastern Ukraine on Monday, hitting apartment buildings and a primary school, the regional governor said.
The shelling killed five people and wounded 22. Among the wounded were children, the governor said.
Moscow denies targeting civilians in what it calls a “special military operation” in Ukraine, but Kiev and the West accuse Russian forces of war crimes.
The war killed thousands, sent millions into flight and caused jumps in global food and energy prices.
During the summit in Germany, G7 leaders, including US President Joe Biden, said they would maintain sanctions on Russia for as long as necessary and increase pressure on the government of President Vladimir Putin and its ally Belarus.
The United States has also said it is finalizing another package of weapons for Ukraine that would include long-range air defense systems.
Zelenski asked for more weapons in a video address to G7 leaders, U.S. and European officials said. He asked for help for the export of grain from Ukraine and for additional sanctions against Russia.
The G7 countries have promised to further squeeze Russian finances – including a cap on the price of Russian oil that a U.S. official said was “close” – and have promised up to $ 29.5 billion more for Ukraine.
The White House said that for the first time in more than a century, Russia had failed to pay its foreign debt because sanctions had effectively cut the country off from global finances.
Russia rejected those claims, telling investors to go to Western financial agents for cash that was sent, but the bondholders did not receive it.