Moscow explains missile strike on Kiev mall
The Russian Defense Ministry has released a video it claims shows Ukrainian rocket artillery for which civilian buildings had been used as cover before it was hidden inside a Kiev shopping mall. The site was destroyed overnight in a missile strike, which the Ukrainian authorities described as an indiscriminate bombing of a civilian target.
“On March 21, during the night, a high-precision long-distance weapon was used to destroy a battery of Ukrainian multiple rocket launcher artillery and the base where they stored ammunition in a defunct shopping center,” Major General Igor Konashenkov told reporters.
The Russian military spokesman added that Ukrainian troops had been using the Vinogradar neighborhood as a base for their operations, showing surveillance footage to that effect. The video ends with what looks like a single missile striking the site.
The Retroville shopping center, situated between the Vinogradar and Podolsk neighborhoods on the northwestern side of Kiev, was struck during the night. Ukraine’s emergency services reported on Monday that rescuers had recovered eight bodies from the scene.
A nine-story building – the tallest of several on the site – was heavily damaged by the blast and subsequent fire, which was only extinguished at around midday on Monday. The general area was devastated, according to images of the aftermath. Windows in residential buildings hundreds of meters away were reportedly shattered by the shockwave.
The office of Ukraine’s prosecutor general said the attack had been conducted by Russia in clear violation of the rules of war and would be investigated as a premeditated mass murder.
Before Moscow showed the drone footage, there was widespread speculation online that Russia might have launched the attack after seeing videos on Ukrainian social media showing the launchers at Retroville.
Several Facebook, Twitter, and TikTok users had posted images and videos of the rocket artillery being operatied in the area, and even parked up in what looked like a garage or an underpass between two parking lots.
RT could not immediately verify whether the footage was authentic or had been manipulated. The individual behind one of the Facebook accounts that had made the connection between the photos and the strike apologized for having shared their post and subsequently deleted it, after others accused them of being a Russian propagandist spreading fake news to justify the attack.
#Ukraine: The "Sport Life" gym outside the Retroville shopping mall in #Kyiv was hit by a RF missile. In an pic taken beforehand, 4+ UA mil vehicles can be seen underneath; these may be MRL (BM-27/21) or supply trucks but unfortunately resolution is too bad to be totally sure. pic.twitter.com/oW73FpuGjj— 🇺🇦 Ukraine Weapons Tracker (@UAWeapons) March 21, 2022
Moscow attacked its neighbor in late February, following a seven-year standoff over Ukraine’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements, and Russia’s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. German- and French-brokered protocols had been designed to regularize the status of those regions within the Ukrainian state.
Russia has now demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join the US-led NATO military bloc. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked and has denied claims it was planning to retake the two republics by force.