Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky acccused Moscow of seeking to “destroy” his country, as Russia defended its overnight strikes that obliterated a shopping mall in the capital Kyiv, killing eight people.
Ukraine could not “hand over” the eastern city of Kharkiv, Kyiv or the heavily bombarded port city of Mariupol, the president told local media, rejecting Russian demands to surrender.
Nearly a month after Russia launched its full-scale invasion on February 24, its assaults have become more deadly despite unprecedented sweeping sanctions imposed by Western allies.
Moscow has ramped up its air and sea operations as the Kremlin is “desperate” to turn the tide against a ferocious Ukrainian resistance, a senior US defence official said.
Russian strikes, likely a missile, laid waste to a shopping mall in Kyiv, whose mayor announced a new curfew from 8pm on Monday until 7am on Wednesday.
AFP reporters saw six bodies covered by black sheets laid out on the ground at the complex called “Retroville”.
“My apartment shook with the force of the explosion, I thought the building would collapse,” said Vladimir, 76, who lives nearby.
“It’s the biggest bomb to have hit the city until now,” said Dima Stepanienko, 30. He found himself flung to “the foot of his bed” by the explosion, he added.
An Orthodox priest walking through the wreckage muttered prayers while cursing “Russian terrorists”.
Russia said it had targeted the shopping mall with “precision-guided weaponry” because it was in fact used to store rocket systems and ammunition.
This is the shopping mall, before and after Russian de-Nazification.