Russian military says it ordered the hit after discovering Ukrainian rocket launchers parked on-site
A view of destroyed buildings and vehicles after a suspected Russian attacks on a shopping mall, in Kiev. ©Emin Sansar / Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
The Russian Defense Ministry has released a video, claiming it shows Ukrainian rocket artillery using civilian buildings as cover before hiding 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 of operations, showing surveillance footage to that effect. The video ends with what looks like a single missile striking the site.
The Retroville shopping center, 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 dead bodies at the scene.
A nine-story building – the tallest of several on the property – was heavily damaged by the blast and subsequent fire, which was only extinguished about 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 shock wave.
The office of Ukraine’s prosecutor general said the attack had been conducted by Russia in clear violation of the rules of war and will be investigated as a premeditated mass murder.
Before Moscow showed the drone footage, there was widespread speculation online that Russia may 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 operating in the area, and even parked in what looked like a garage or underpass between two parking lots at Retroville.
RT could not immediately verify that the footage was authentic or may have been manipulated. One of the Facebook accounts that made the connection between the photos and the strike apologized for sharing it and deleted the post, after others accused the owner of being a Russian propagandist spreading fake news to justify the strike.
#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 in Donetsk and Lugansk. The 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.