The Russian Federation has denied claims it targeted a shopping centre in the Ukrainian city of Kremenchuk with missile strikes resulting in the death of at least 20 people and injuries to dozens of others.
Ukrainian authorities estimate there were between 200 and 1 000 people inside the mall when it was struck on Monday.
Russia’s ministry of defence said on Tuesday morning that the fire was caused by “the detonation of stored ammunition for western weapons” located next to the mall.
It claimed that it conducted a “high-precision” strike on a hangar in Kremenchuk containing weapons supplied by US and European countries.
The Russian defence ministry also claimed that the mall was not operating when it caught fire.
Dmitry Peskov, the Kremlin’s spokesperson, told reporters on Tuesday that the war would end only when Ukraine gave in to Moscow’s demands. He said:
The Ukrainian side can end everything by the end of today. They just need to order Ukrainian troops to lay down their weapons and fulfil Russia’s conditions. And it will all be over.
An order for the nationalist units to lay down their arms is necessary.
Ukraine’s air force command said Russian forces struck the mall, located near a railway station, with two X-22 cruise missiles that were fired by an unspecified number of Tu-22M long-range bombers.
In a joint statement, the leaders of the G7 condemned the “abominable attack” and pledged “unwavering support” for Ukraine. Reads part of the statement:
We stand united with Ukraine in mourning the innocent victims of this brutal attack. Indiscriminate attacks on innocent civilians constitute a war crime.
[Vladimir] Putin and those responsible will be held to account. We will not rest until Russia ends its cruel and senseless war on Ukraine.
Russia invaded Ukraine on 24 February 2022 in a major escalation of the Russo-Ukrainian War that began in 2014.
Putin’s call for Ukraine’s military to overthrow the Kyiv government fell on deaf ears as the country mounted a strong resistance that forced Russia to abandon its plans to capture the capital and redirect its attack on the east of the country.