18 Killed in Russian Attack on Shopping Center in Ukraine’s Kharkiv Region

The Russian airstrike that hit a large shopping center in Kharkiv on May 25 claimed the lives of 18 people, including a 12-year-old girl, according to Ukrainian officials.

Oleh Syniehubov, the head of the regional military administration said last Monday that there were nearly 200 people inside the Epicenter hypermarket building when the strike occurred. In addition to the 18 people killed, another 48 were injured and five remained missing, Syniehubov said.

Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, has faced devastating bombardments in recent weeks as Russia continues its massive offensive in northeastern Ukraine.

Surveillance cameras at the shopping center captured the moment of the airstrike, showing the building shaking from the impact as smoke and flames engulfed the shopping center while people attempted to flee.

Epicenter Director Oleksandr Lutsenko, who was in his second-floor office at the time of the strike, said the hallway was dark and “covered in dust” as he made his way to the exit. He said employees were clinging to one another as they left the building and that they could “hear the ceiling falling.”

Once outside the building, Lutsenko said the black smoke was “everywhere” and he could see people “jumping out of the windows” to escape. 

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy denounced the “brutal attack” and said Russian leaders wanted to make “burning lives” and “erasing national borders through war” the “norm.”

While in Spain on May 27 on an official visit, the Ukrainian president again urged the West to lift restrictions to allow Ukraine to use Western-supplied defense weapons to strike on Russian soil.

The strikes in the Kharkiv region are being staged from positions just across the border in Russia. However, the Biden administration and some NATO countries banned Ukraine from using the more advanced weapons systems to attack Russia directly.

Finland, Poland, and Canada last week lifted their bans in light of the attacks in Kharkiv. Germany and France also okayed the use of their weapons systems for strikes in Russia but added certain limitations.

On Thursday, May 30, President Biden partially lifted the administration’s ban, allowing Ukraine to use US-supplied weapons only to target Russian military installations just over the border from Kharkiv.