Dozens of civilians were feared killed or injured in a Russian missile strike Monday at a busy shopping center in Ukraine’s central city of Kremenchuk, Ukrainian officials said.
Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in a Telegram message that the number of casualties was “unbelievable”, citing reports that more than 1,000 civilians were inside at the time of the attack.

Footage of the scene showed giant plumes of black smoke from the mall bursting into flames as emergency services rushed in and spectators watched in distress.

In this image, taken from video provided by Ukraine's state emergency service, firefighters are busy extinguishing a fire at a shopping center that burned down after a rocket attack in Kremenchuk, Ukraine, Monday, June 27, 2022. (Ukrainian State Emergency Service via AP)
The Ukrainian army said the mall was hit by missiles fired by Russian Tu-22M3 long-range bombers from the air over the western region of Kursk. (Ukrainian State Emergency Service via AP) (AP)
In this image, taken from video provided by Ukraine's state emergency service, firefighters are busy extinguishing a fire at a shopping center that burned down after a rocket attack in Kremenchuk, Ukraine, Monday, June 27, 2022. (Ukrainian State Emergency Service via AP)
Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the number of victims was “unbelievable”. (AP)

At least 11 people have been killed and more than 40 injured, according to regional governor Dmytro Lunin.

Meanwhile, the US was preparing to announce the purchase of an advanced surface-to-air missile system for Kiev, 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 posed “no threat to the Russian military” and had “no strategic value”. He accused Russia of sabotaging “people’s attempts to live normal lives, which make the occupiers so angry”.

The Ukrainian army said the mall was hit by missiles fired by Russian Tu-22M3 long-range bombers from the air over the western region of Kursk.

Firefighters work to extinguish a fire at a shopping center that burned down after a rocket attack in Ukraine's Kremenchuk, Monday, June 27, 2022. (Ukrainian state emergency service via AP)
Firefighters work to extinguish a fire at a shopping center that burned down after a rocket attack in Ukraine’s Kremenchuk, Monday, June 27, 2022. (Ukrainian state emergency service via AP) (AP)

The secretary of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, Oleksiy Danilov, said one missile hit the mall and another hit a sports arena in Kremenchuk.

“Russia continues to express its impotence on ordinary citizens. It makes no sense to hope for decency and humanity on her part,” Zelenskyy said.

Mayor Vitaliy Maletskiy wrote on Facebook that the attack “hit a very busy area, which is 100 percent certain it has no ties to the armed forces.”

The attack took place as Russia launched an all-out attack on the last Ukrainian stronghold in eastern Ukraine’s Luhansk province, in which the city of Lysychansk was “fired from the ground and from the air,” according to the local governor.

Russian forces appeared to be stepping up an offensive aimed at trying to wrestle Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region after forcing government forces from the neighboring city of Sievierodonetsk in recent days.

Western leaders, meanwhile, promised steadfast and continued support for Kiev. According to the Secretary-General of the military alliance, Jens Stoltenberg, NATO will agree to provide further military support to Ukraine — including secure communications and anti-drone systems — when its leaders meet in Spain for a summit.

West of Lysychansk, the mayor of the city of Sloviansk — possibly the next major battlefield — said Russian troops fired cluster munitions into the city after dawn, including one that hit a residential area.

The number of dead and injured has yet to be confirmed, authorities said. The Associated Press saw one fatality: A man’s body lay hunched over a car door frame, his blood streaming on the floor from chest and head wounds.

The blast blew out most of the windows in the surrounding apartment buildings and the cars parked below, strewn with broken glass.

“Everything is now destroyed. We are the only people still living in this part of the building. There is no power,” local resident Valentina Vitkovska said, tearfully speaking about the explosion.

“I can’t even call to tell others what happened to us.”

Overall, Zelenskyy’s office said at least six civilians were killed and 31 others injured as part of intense Russian shelling of several Ukrainian cities over the past 24 hours — including Kiev and major cities in the south and east of the country. land, but not counting the attack in Kremenchuk and the shelling of the eastern city of Kharkov, which killed at least three people and injured another 15.

It said Russian forces fired rockets that killed two people and injured five overnight in and near Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, and continued to attack the main southern port city of Odessa. A rocket attack destroyed residential buildings and injured six people, including a child, it said.

A police officer and paramedic provide first aid to a woman injured by the Russian shelling in the city center in Slavyansk, Donetsk region, Ukraine, Monday, June 27, 2022.
A police officer and paramedic provide first aid to a woman injured by the Russian shelling in the city center in Slavyansk, Donetsk region, Ukraine, Monday, June 27, 2022. (AP)

In Lysychansk, at least five high-rises in the city and the last road bridge were damaged in the past day, the regional governor said. A critical highway connecting the city to government-occupied territory to the south was rendered impassable by shelling.

The city had a pre-war population of about 100,000, of whom about one-tenth is left.

Analysts say Lysychansk’s location, high on the banks of the Siverskiy Donets River, is a major advantage for the city’s Ukrainian defenders.

The remains of a missile that dropped cluster bombs at a residential complex were pinned to the ground near the complex on June 27, 2022 in Sloviansk, Ukraine.
The remains of a missile that dropped cluster bombs at a residential complex were pinned to the ground near the complex on June 27, 2022 in Sloviansk, Ukraine. (Getty)

“It is a very hard nut to crack. It could take the Russians many months and a lot of effort to storm Lysychansk,” military analyst Oleh Zhdanov said.

In other developments, in Germany’s Bavarian Alps, leaders of the Group of Seven countries unveiled plans to seek new sanctions and pledged to continue to support Ukraine “for as long as necessary”.

In a joint statement on Monday, after holding a video link session with Zelenskyy, the leaders underlined their “unwavering commitment to support the government and people of Ukraine in their courageous defense of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of their country.”

The US appeared ready to respond to Zelenskyy’s call for more air defense systems after Russian forces hit Kiev with long-range missiles on Sunday. Washington was to announce the purchase of an advanced surface-to-air missile system for Ukraine.

In Brussels, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg announced plans to significantly expand the Alliance’s rapid response forces as part of his response to an “era of strategic competition”. The NATO Response Force currently has approximately 40,000 soldiers.

The British Ministry of Defense said Russia will likely rely increasingly on reserve forces in the coming weeks of the war.

Analysts have said a reservist call by Russia could vastly alter the balance of the war, but also have political ramifications for President Vladimir Putin’s government.

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