As the death toll in Russia’s airstrike on a Ukrainian shopping mall full of civilians on Tuesday rose to 20, Russian defense officials claimed full responsibility for the attack — and then boasted it was a successful military operation.
Igor Konashenkov, a spokesman for the Russian Defense Ministry, described the attack on the central Ukrainian city of Kremenchuk in a Tuesday briefing, calling it one of the Russian military’s successful attacks on Ukrainian “military installations”.
He said the “high-precision strike” was carried out not in a mall but in a weapons depot and successfully destroyed “Western-made weapons and ammunition” destined for Ukrainian troops in Donbas. Curiously, he blamed a fire at the weapons depot for the damage at the Amstor shopping mall, which he said was “non-functional”.
He did not mention the 20 civilians killed. Another 59 people were injured in the strike.
Russia’s version of events is sure to infuriate Ukrainian authorities, who at a briefing Tuesday at the bombed-out BS mall on the Kremlin narrative showed reporters the children’s toys and consumer goods destroyed in what Ukrainian Interior Minister Denys Monastyrsky called ” aimed hit on a civilian facility.”
Photos of alleged fragments of a Russian missile found at the scene also circulated in Ukrainian media.
In addition to the 20 fatalities confirmed by the Ukrainian Presidential Office on Tuesday, many more people remain missing. Kyrylo Tymoshenko, the deputy head of the presidential administration, put the number at 40, while Monastyrsky said at least 21 had not yet been reported. Poltava region head Dmytro Lunin said 36 people remain missing.
The death toll is expected to rise as rescue workers continue to work at the scene.
“Rescuers will try to sort the rubble by tomorrow, and then the final death toll will be known,” Monastyrsky said, adding that most of the victims have not yet been identified because the bodies were “severely burned.”
He said Ukrainian intelligence had already identified some of the Russian pilots involved in the attack, noting that “there is nothing here that could threaten any of them [Russian] Military.”
Ukraine’s Attorney General has vowed to take the matter to The Hague as the United Nations Security Council prepares for an emergency meeting on Tuesday.
Family members and friends of shoppers who disappeared after the strike are still near the scene of the crime awaiting information about their fate.
“We texted him, called him, but nothing,” one man, Kiril Zhebolovsky, told Reuters of his agonizing wait to find out what happened to his friend, who worked at an electronics store in the mall.
Monday’s attack came as Russian forces intensified their strikes during the G7 summit in Germany.
Vadym Denysenko, an adviser to Ukraine’s Interior Minister, said the Kremenchuk strike should be seen not only as Putin’s warning to Western nations, but also as a clear signal to the Russian elite that he has no intention of backing down in Ukraine.
“There is a very intense phase [of the war] Now and in the near future, Putin will do everything in his power to intensify such strikes,” Denyskenko told local media in a comment on Tuesday.
His warning came as Mykolayiv authorities announced the consequences of another overnight Russian aggression. A child was killed after Russian forces attacked the town of Ochakiv, according to Governor Vitaliy Kim.
https://www.thedailybeast.com/russia-brags-about-airstrike-that-killed-20-at-ukrainian-shopping-mall?source=articles&via=rss Russia brags about airstrike that killed 20 people at Ukrainian mall