Ukraine: Russian strikes on Kharkiv kills at least six, injures dozens

Putin claims Kremlin’s army is attempting to create a ‘buffer zone’ in region to prevent cross-border attacks by Kyiv’s forces

Russian strikes on a crowded DIY hardware store and a residential area in the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv on Saturday killed at least six people and injured dozens, local officials said.

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy issued an impassioned plea to Ukraine’s western allies to help boost air defences to keep the country’s cities safe.

Six people were killed after two guided bombs hit the DIY hypermarket in a residential area of the city, regional governor Oleh Syniehubov said on national television.

At least two of the dead were store employees. Forty people were injured in the attack and 16 still unaccounted for, Mr Syniehubov said.


Kharkiv mayor Ihor Terekhov said about 120 people had been in the hardware store when the bombs struck.

“The attack targeted the shopping centre, where there were many people – this is clearly terrorism,” Mr Terekhov said.

An early evening missile strike hit a residential building in the centre of the city of 1.3 million, injuring 18 people, Mr Syniehubov said.

The missile left a crater several metres deep in the pavement at the foot of the building, which also housed a post office, a beauty salon and a cafe.

Emergency workers ushered away residents of nearby apartment buildings. Some of the injured had blood on their faces.

Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, is just 30km from the Russian border and has been the target of Russian attacks for weeks. This month, Russian troops also staged an incursion into northern areas of Kharkiv Region.

Andriy Kudinov, director of the suburban shopping centre, told local media the hardware store was full of shoppers buying items for their summer cottages.

Huge clouds of dark smoke billowed into the sky over the shopping centre. Firefighters battled many small blazes. Within 90 minutes, most were brought under control.

Rescuers, medics and journalists rushed away from the scene of both strikes and lay on their stomachs, fearing a second strike – a common feature of Russia’s recent attacks.

Witnesses described panicked scenes at the shopping centre.

“I was at my workplace. I heard the first hit and ... with my colleague, we fell to the ground. There was the second hit and we were covered with debris. Then we started to crawl to the higher ground,” said Dmytro Syrotenko, 26, who had a large gash on his face.

Mr Syrotenko told Reuters he was taken to safety by a rescue worker who helped him, several colleagues, and shoppers.

Mr Zelenskiy, in his nightly video address, denounced the strike as “yet another example of Russian madness. There is no other way to describe it.

“When we tell world leaders that Ukraine needs sufficient air defences, when we say we need real decisive measures to enable us to protect our people, so that Russian terrorists cannot even approach our border, we are talking about not allowing strikes like this to happen,” he said.

Moscow denies deliberately targeting civilians, but thousands have been killed and injured during its 27-month full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

Earlier, Mr Zelenski said Ukrainian forces have secured “combat control” of areas where Russian troops entered the northeastern Kharkiv region earlier this month.

“Our soldiers have now managed to take combat control of the border area where the Russian occupiers entered,” he said in his nightly video address on Friday.

Russia’s Kharkiv push appears to be a co-ordinated new offensive that includes testing Ukrainian defences in the Donetsk region further south, while also launching incursions in the northern Sumy and Chernihiv regions.

Russian president Vladimir Putin has said the Kremlin’s army is attempting to create a “buffer zone” in the Kharkiv region to prevent Ukrainian cross-border attacks.

The city of Kharkiv, which is the capital of the region of the same name, is about 19km from the Russian border.

Moscow’s troops have in recent weeks captured villages in the area as part of a broad push, and analysts say they may be trying to get within artillery range of the city.

Ukrainian authorities have evacuated more than 11,000 people from the region since the start of the offensive.

The Russian push is shaping up to be Ukraine’s biggest test since Moscow’s full-scale invasion in February 2022, with outnumbered and outgunned Ukrainian forces being pressed at several points along the 1,000km-long front line that snakes from north to south in eastern Ukraine.

Ukraine’s problems have been mounting in recent months as it tries to hold out against its much bigger foe, and the war appears to be at a critical juncture. – Reuters/AP