Kharkiv: Russian raid kills 18 people in a supermarket, the deadliest attack Ukraine has seen in weeks



CNN

Among the dead were 18 people, including a 12-year-old girl Russian strike The attack targeted a supermarket in Kharkiv over the weekend, making it the deadliest attack Ukraine has suffered in several weeks, regional officials said.

Oleh Sinyhopov, head of the military administration of the Kharkiv region, said on Monday that five people were still missing. He said that 48 people were injured in the raid that hit the Epicenter Hypermarket shopping center building while nearly 200 people were inside.

KharkivUkraine’s second-largest city, which is located near its border with Russia, has witnessed a wave of Russian attacks in recent weeks.

Security camera footage of the moment of the attack shows the building shaking on impact, with the entire site immediately engulfed in thick smoke and flames. Police and witnesses described at least two explosions.

Oleksandr Lutsenko, director of the Epicenter shopping center, said he was in his office on the second floor at the time of the two explosions.

“I started walking down the corridor leading to the evacuation exit, but it was dark and the entire corridor was covered in dust. There was no air to breathe,” he told CNN by phone.

“The staff was leaving too. Everyone was groping, people were grabbing each other. We heard the ceiling falling.”

As soon as he got out, he saw the hypermarket on fire. There was black smoke everywhere, and it was difficult to breathe. Lutsenko added that some people were jumping out of windows.

Ukrainian Interior Minister Ihor Klymenko said the hours following the attack were “hellish” and thanked everyone who helped put out the fires. Pictures from inside the store following the attack show the building in complete ruin, with burned stock and collapsed walls.

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The Ukrainian Catholic University said that the dead 12-year-old girl was called Maria Mironenko, and said in a Facebook post that she died in the raid alongside her mother, Irina, who was a student at the institute. She added that her father was also injured and was receiving treatment in the hospital.

Serhiy Polvinov, head of the investigation department of Kharkiv Regional Police, said the family was shopping when the explosions occurred. Maria’s older sister, Nadia, 20, was not with them at the time, and she did not learn of the death until after her father was found in the hospital.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky denounced the strike as a “brutal attack”, saying that “Russia is run by men who want to make it a norm – burning lives, destroying cities and villages, dividing people, erasing national borders through war.”

Zelensky, who was in Spain on an official visit on Monday, urged Ukraine’s allies to provide it with more air defenses.

In his meeting with Zelensky in Madrid, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez on Monday announced a new $1.08 billion arms deal to Ukraine “aimed at strengthening air defense systems” and protecting Ukrainian citizens and infrastructure from Russian attacks.

“We are sending Patriot missiles,” Sanchez said of the American-made air defense system. He added: “Zelensky asks the platforms to launch these programs, and asks how many we can provide. We will send another batch of Leopard tanks and, above all, ammunition that [Ukrainian] You need troops.”

Zelensky was scheduled to visit Spain earlier this month, but postponed the trip due to the Russian offensive around Kharkiv and other parts of Ukraine. This attack appears to be continuing, as Kharkiv is under intense attacks daily.

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The United States announced on Friday that it would send $275 million in military aid to Ukraine as part of “efforts to help Ukraine repel the Russian attack near Kharkiv,” according to Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

The top US diplomat said the new batch of aid “contains urgently needed capabilities” for Ukrainian forces as they fight to repel Russian advances towards the main city in the country’s northeast.

News of the new military aid came as the Ukrainian Defense Ministry played down expectations that French military trainers could soon arrive in Ukraine after online comments from army chief Oleksandr Sirskyi appeared to suggest their arrival in the country was a done deal.

Sirsky wrote on Telegram after a video conference between him and the defense ministers of the two countries: “I welcome France’s initiative to send trainers to Ukraine to train Ukrainian military personnel.” “I have already signed the documents that will allow the first French coach to visit our training centers and get to know the infrastructure and staff.”

Cirsky’s statement did not provide a possible timetable, but it seemed to indicate that France was ready to make what could be a very important shift in the participation of NATO countries in Ukraine’s war with Russia.

Further strengthening this feeling, Siersky wrote: “I believe that France’s determination will encourage other partners to join this ambitious project. I thanked the Minister for the friendly support he is providing to the French people and the military and economic assistance to Ukraine to repel Russian military aggression.”

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In a subsequent comment to CNN, which appeared aimed at lowering expectations and perhaps placating key allies, the Ukrainian Defense Ministry softened its tone, saying that Kiev had “expressed interest in potentially welcoming foreign coaches to Ukraine” since a conference in Paris was held in Paris. End of February.

“We have ongoing discussions with France and other countries on this issue and have begun internal paperwork to move forward when a decision is made,” the short statement concluded.

The French Ministry of Defense, in a comment to CNN, had a similar message regarding military trainers.

“As with all projects discussed at the conference, we continue to work with Ukrainians to understand their precise needs,” the statement read.

At the Paris conference, French President Emmanuel Macron put forward the idea that sending military trainers to Ukraine is one way in which Kiev’s Western allies could deploy forces in the country.

Additional reporting by Victoria Butenko and Daria Tarasova Markina in Kiev and Xiaofei Xu in Paris

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