SLOVIANSK, Ukraine (AP) — Scores of civilians were feared killed or wounded in a Russian missile strike Monday on a crowded shopping mall in Ukraine’s central city of Kremenchuk, Ukrainian officials said.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in a Telegram post that the number of victims was “unimaginable,” citing reports that more than 1,000 civilians were inside at the time of the attack. Images from the scene showed giant plumes of black smoke from the shopping center engulfed in flames, as emergency crews rushed in and onlookers watched in distress.
At least 11 people were dead and more than 40 wounded, according to the regional governor, Dmytro Lunin, who said that rescuers were continuing to comb the smoldering debris for more victims.
The strike unfolded as the leaders of the world’s major economies get ready to pursue new sanctions on Russia, including a price cap on oil and higher tariffs on goods. Meanwhile, the U.S. prepared to announce the purchase of an advanced surface-to-air missile system for Kyiv, and NATO planned to increase the size of its rapid-reaction forces nearly eightfold to 300,000 troops.
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Zelenskyy said the target presented “no threat to the Russian army” and had “no strategic value.” He accused Russia of sabotaging “people’s attempts to live a normal life, which make the occupiers so angry.”