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The country’s President Volodymyr Zelensky has shared footage of the moment a deadly Russian missile hit a shopping center in the central Ukrainian city of Kremenchuk.
The strike killed at least 18 people in the mall alone. 59 others were injured and 25 were hospitalized while 36 other people are missing.
Mr Zelensky released the harrowing video in a speech in which he also claimed that a total of 2,811 missiles had been launched against towns across the war-torn country in a single day.
Footage shows a huge plume of black smoke covering the center immediately after the missile hit.
“The Russian missile hit this object, deliberately. They wanted to kill as many people as possible in a peaceful town, in an ordinary shopping mall,” Mr. Zelensky said.
It came as Ukraine carried out its largest POW exchange since the Russian invasion, securing the release of 144 of its soldiers, including 95 who were defending Mariupol steelworkers, the report said. Ukrainian military intelligence agency.
The majority of Ukrainians were seriously injured, suffering gunshot and shrapnel wounds, blast trauma, burns, broken bones and amputated limbs, the agency known by the acronym GUR said in a statement. communicated on Telegram.
The prisoner swap included the handing over of 43 members of the Azov Regiment, a National Guard unit that Russia says is a dangerous far-right battalion, a promising sign for Ukrainians hoping for the release of other fighters of the unit.
Also on Wednesday, Pope Francis called the bombing the latest series of “barbaric attacks” against Ukraine.
“Every day I carry in my heart dear and martyred Ukraine, which continues to be scourged by barbaric attacks like the one that hit the commercial center of Kremenchuk,” Francis told the crowd in St. Peter’s Square during of the feast of Saints Peter and Paul.
“I pray that this crazy war can soon end and I renew my call to persevere without fatigue in prayer for peace.”
According to those who cleared the rubble at the site, 60% of the mall was destroyed by the strike with more than 400 workers taking part in the effort.
The Ministry of Defense (MOD) said in an intelligence update on Wednesday that there is a “realistic possibility” that the mall attack was accidental as the missile was aimed at a “nearby infrastructure target “.
The statement added: “The shortage of more modern precision strike weapons in Russia and the professional shortcomings of their targeting planners will most likely result in further civilian casualties.”
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The Moscow Defense Ministry said on Tuesday that the mall fire was caused by “the explosion of stored ammunition for Western weapons,” the Moscow Defense Ministry said, but did not provide any evidence to back up his claims.
He added: “On June 27, in the city of Kremenchuk, the Russian Aerospace Forces launched a strike with high-precision air weapons on hangars with weapons and ammunition received from the United States and European countries.
As a result of a high-precision strike, Western-made weapons and ammunition concentrated in a storage area for later shipment to the group of Ukrainian troops in Donbass were hit. The detonation of ammunition stored for Western weapons caused a fire in a non-functional shopping center next to the factory.
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