Russia said Monday that a shopping mall in the Ukrainian capital Kyiv, which was attacked and destroyed overnight killing at least eight people, was used to store rocket systems.
Russia used “long-range precision-guided weaponry” to destroy a store of “multiple-launch rocket systems” and ammunition in a shopping centre in Kyiv, defence ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov told media.
Displaying aerial footage of the bombing, he accused Ukraine of continuing to use civilian infrastructure as a shield for artillery and rocket systems used to attack Russian troops.
A square near the mall was used to store and reload ammunition for missile systems, Konashenkov said, playing a video of a khaki military vehicle driving close to the building.
He also showed night-vision images of a huge explosion coming from the building’s roof.
The 10-storey building was hit by a powerful blast that pulverised vehicles in its car park and left a crater several metres (yards) wide.
Ukraine’s emergency services said “enemy shelling” had caused fires on several floors and released security camera footage showing a massive explosion and a mushroom cloud, followed by a series of smaller blasts.
In the night, AFP journalists said a huge blast shook the city and fires could be seen blazing in the mall.
People living in a housing block near the mall whose windows were shattered by the blast said they had seen a mobile rocket launcher near the mall for several days previously.
Konashenkov said that the Russian military’s aerial footage was “absolute proof of the criminal use by the Kyiv nationalist regime of civilian buildings… as firing positions for artillery and rocket systems”.
Russia uses cruise missiles but only attacks military targets, he stressed.