The death toll from Russia's missile strike on a shopping mall in central Ukraine on Monday rose to 18 as rescuers continued to search for dozens of missing individuals on Tuesday after the deadly attack on a civilian site drew a wave of condemnation from both Ukrainian and Western officials.
Dmytro Lunin, the governor of the Poltava region where the attack took place, confirmed the death toll on Telegram and added that 36 people were missing.
In a Facebook post , Ukraine's State Emergency Service reported that 59 people were injured in the attack, 25 of whom remain in critical condition.
In his daily address on Monday night, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky labeled the Russian strike "one of the most defiant terrorist attacks in European history."
Zelensky said he has appealed to the United States to label Russia a state sponsor of terrorism following this incident and urged all democratic nations to support this call.
The strike took place on Monday afternoon in the city of Kremenchuk when more than 1,000 shoppers and workers were present inside the mall.
Although the Kremlin is yet to officially comment on the attack, Russia's deputy permanent representative to the United Nations Dmitry Polyansky called the incident "a new Bucha-style Ukrainian provocation" on Twitter. Polyansky offered no evidence alongside his claim and retreaded on earlier Russian conspiracy theories about the massacre in Bucha claiming it was carried out by "Ukrainian radicals" instead of retreating Russian forces.
"Only totally insane terrorists, who should have no place on earth can strike missiles at [a mall filled with civilians]…And this is not an off-target missile strike, this is a calculated Russian strike—exactly at this shopping mall…Russia will stop at nothing," Zelensky said in his speech .
The rocket strike comes after Russia carried out a host of attacks across Ukraine, including in the capital of Kyiv, over the weekend, as G-7 nations—the U.S., the United Kingdom, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan—gathered in Germany for their annual three-day summit. In an official statement the G-7 condemned the "abominable" attack adding that "indiscriminate attacks on innocent civilians constitute a war crime" and Russian President Vladimir Putin will be "held to account," for this. Earlier several people were injured and two died in a Russian missile strike on residential apartments in Kyiv, an attack President Joe Biden called "disgusting barbarism." G-7 leaders on Monday pledged more support for Ukraine and further sanctions against Russia. The nations are also close to reaching a deal to set a price cap on Russian oil, which would fix a limit on how much revenue Russia could make from its oil. G-7 finance ministers reportedly plan to sort out the details in the coming weeks and months.
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