Russia launched a missile attack on a crowded Ukrainian mall with over 1,000 shoppers in the central city of Kremenchuk on Monday.
While initial reports said 13 people were killed and 20 wounded, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy described the exact number of dead and injured as “impossible to even imagine,” VOA News reported.
Zelenskyy said the attack set fire to the mall located 180 miles southeast of Kyiv.
He denounced the attack, saying that the shopping centre was “no danger to the Russian army, no strategic value.”
They were trying “to live a normal life, which angers Russians so much,” he added.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken condemned Russia’s actions.
“The world is horrified by Russia’s missile strike today, which hit a crowded Ukrainian shopping mall — the latest in a string of atrocities. We will continue to support our Ukrainian partners and hold Russia, including those responsible for atrocities, to account,” he said in a statement on Twitter.
Anton Herashchenko, an adviser for the Ukrainian Ministry of Internal Affairs, who was at the scene of the burning shopping mall, said that rescue crews were combing through the rubble to find any survivors, NBC News reported.
"Rescue workers are underway to save people who just came to buy groceries," he said.
The missiles were launched from long-range bombers that originated at a Russia military air field north of Ukraine, the country’s State Emergency Service said.
Ahead of a NATO summit scheduled to begin on Tuesday in Madrid, where the war in Ukraine will be a main topic of discussion, the alliance’s head Jens Stoltenberg told reporters in Brussel on Monday: "We will transform NATO's response force and increase the number of our high readiness forces to well over 300,000,"
He said the move would be part of "the biggest overhaul of our collective defense and deterrence since the Cold War."