Exhausted firefighters search for survivors in the rubble of a Ukrainian shopping center where authorities say 36 people are missing after a Russian rocket attack that left at least 18 dead.
The attack, in the central city of Kremenchuk, far from any frontline, sparked a wave of worldwide condemnation, with France’s Emmanuel Macron among the leaders calling it a “war crime”.
Ukraine said Russia deliberately killed civilians.
Russia said it hit a nearby weapons depot and suggested the mall was empty.
At a summit in Germany, leaders of the G7 industrialized democracies announced plans for a price cap for Russian oil, designed to starve Russia of resources for war without exacerbating a global economic crisis.
Next is a NATO summit in Spain at which the military alliance is expected to announce hundreds of thousands of troops moving to a higher state of alert and a review of its strategic framework to describe Russia as an adversary.
Relatives of the missing in Kremenchuk lined up at a hotel across the street from the wreckage of the mall, where rescuers had set up a base.
Tired firefighters sat on a curb after fighting the blaze overnight and searching for survivors, mostly in vain.
Oleksandr, who wet his face from a water bottle, said his team had been working all night.
“We got out five bodies. We haven’t found anyone alive,” he said.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy accused Russia of deliberately targeting civilians in “one of the most defiant terrorist attacks in European history”.
The Russian defense ministry said its missiles hit a depot where foreign weapons were stored, which exploded and started the fire that spread to the nearby mall.
Ukraine said there was no military target in the area.
““Russia’s goal is for as many Ukrainians as possible to close their eyes forever and for the rest to stop resisting and submit to slavery,” Andriy Yermak, chief of Ukraine’s presidential staff, said on Twitter.
“That’s how the terrorist state acts.”
Russia described the mall as unused and empty.
But that was contradicted by the dead and missing relatives and the dozens of injured survivors, such as Ludmila Mykhailets, 43, who was shopping there with her husband when the blast threw her into the air.
“I flew with my head forward, and splinters hit my body. The whole place collapsed,” she said at a hospital where she was being treated.
G7 leaders called the attack “appalling.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin and those responsible would be held accountable, they said in a statement.
At the end of its summit, the G7 announced a new approach: let Russian oil go on the market and put a cap on the price countries could pay.
“We invite all like-minded countries to consider joining our actions,” they said in a communiqué.
The United States has also issued a new set of sanctions banning imported Russian gold targeting the state-owned Russian defense conglomerate Rostec and several banks.
With action at the summit now shifting to NATO, White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said a new strategic concept would “describe in stark terms the threat Russia poses and the way it has made peace in Europe.” “.
That marks a departure from the post-Soviet NATO policy that cast Russia as a potential partner.
Russia denies deliberately targeting civilians in its “special military operation” that destroyed Ukrainian cities, killed thousands, and forced millions from their homes.
The attack on Kremenchuk came after increasing Russian long-range missile strikes from the frontline, including the first attacks on the capital Kyiv in weeks.
The United Nations Security Council, which Russia vetoed, will meet on Tuesday at Ukraine’s request after the attack on Kremenchuk.