- Warning: Distressing content
Russia has targeted innocent families shopping for food, in daytime missile attacks that Ukraine says are yet more evidence of the murder of civilians and of state-sanctioned terrorism.
There are also breaking reports emerging on Tuesday morning that civilians – including a teenage boy – have been shot dead while collecting water in Lysychansk, the city Russia has turned its sights on since claiming Sievierodonetsk.
The Head of the Kharkiv Regional State Administration, Oleg Synegubov, has also confirmed another five civilians are dead in Kharkiv.
Photographs from the scene showed one victim in a pool of blood next to a park bench. A walking stick lays next to his body and his hand is pulled through the strap of his shopping bag.
Other victims were parents and children.
“The invaders hit the yards, streets – only civilian infrastructure, where only civilians live,” Mr Synegubov announced on social media.
At the shopping centre in the central city of Kremenchuk, more than 1000 people were inside when the rockets hit.
Ukraine’s air force command said the building was hit by two long-range X-22 missiles fired from Tu-22M3 bombers that flew from Shaykovka airfield in Russia’s Kaluga region.
There were no military targets nearby, according to Ukrainian officials.
So far, 13 people have been confirmed dead and another 40 are injured.
Emergency crews at the site have extinguished an enormous fire and are now trying to find people who are feared trapped under the collapsed building.
James Longman, correspondent for US broadcaster ABC, said “the recovery won’t be of bodies”.
“It is of body parts. This is horrific,” Longman said from the scene.
“I’ve just seen a torso with one arm attached brought out on a piece of canvas. The dazed look of the recovery teams…”
Ukrainian officials have labelled the killings war crimes that amount to terrorism.
“The Russian state has become the largest terrorist organisation in the world,” President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Tuesday morning.
“Everyone in the world should know that buying or transporting Russian oil, maintaining ties with Russian banks, paying taxes and duties to the Russian state is giving money to terrorists.”
Dmytro Lunin, governor of the central Poltava region said Russia had engaged in an “act of terrorism against civilians”.
Chairman of Ukraine’s parliament (Verkhovna Rada), Ruslan Stefanchuk, also called the attack “another act of terrorism”.
“Russia itself must be recognised as a sponsor of terrorism at the NATIO Summit in Madrid tomorrow,” Mr Stefanchuk said.
Anton Geraschenko, advisor to Ukraine’s Minister of Internal Affairs, made a video from the destroyed mall.
“It was never any military object,” Mr Geraschenko said,
“It was daytime. Many people were on site buying food – women, elderly, children, men.
“It is already obvious that it was another of Putin’s war crimes.”
Kremenchuk, an industrial city of 217,000 before Russia’s February 24 invasion of Ukraine, lies on the Dnipro river in the region of Poltava and is the site of Ukraine’s biggest oil refinery.
But Ukraine insisted the mall was not close to any legitimate targets and that Russia must have deliberately hit civilians.