The latest in a series of horrors in Ukraine took place this week as Russian fire fell on civilians in a busy shopping mall far from the front lines of the fifth month of war.
The timing may not be a coincidence.
While much of the war of attrition in eastern Ukraine was hidden from view, the brutality of the Russian missile attacks on a shopping mall in downtown Kremenchuk and on residential buildings in the capital city Kyiv, opened up the whole world and especially the West. leaders gathered for a trio of summits in Europe.
Rescuers work on a damaged residential building in Kyiv. Rockets hit a home and a kindergarten last Friday, injuring six people and killing one.
Pictures of Sopa | Lightrocket | beautiful pictures
Are the attacks a message from Russian President Vladimir Putin as the West seeks to arm Ukraine with more effective weapons to strengthen its resistance and put Ukraine on the path to joining the Union? Europe?
Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko suggested as much when rockets hit the capital on June 26, three days after EU leaders agreed to make Ukraine a candidate for membership.
It was “probably a symbolic attack” as the Group of Seven leading economic powers and then NATO leaders prepare to meet and put more pressure on Moscow, he said. At least six people were killed in a strike in Kyiv, which collapsed an apartment building.
The former commander of U.S. military forces in Europe, retired Lieutenant General Ben Hodges, went further in connecting the attack and the meetings. “The Russians are humiliating the leaders of the West,” he said.
The day after the Kyiv attack, when G-7 leaders met in Germany to discuss further support for Ukraine during their annual summit, Russia fired missiles at a shopping mall. Crowded shopping in the city of Kremenchuk, central Ukraine, left at least 19 people dead.
US President Joe Biden, center, attends a working lunch with other G7 leaders to discuss shaping the global economy. The Group of Seven leading economic powers is meeting in Germany for an annual three-day gathering.
Kenny Holston | The New York Times via AP, Pool
The timing of both attacks appeared to coincide with the European meetings of US President Joe Biden, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and French President Emmanuel Macron, all pro-Ukraine.
Denying the evidence, Putin and his officials denied that Russia attacked residential areas. Putin denied that Russian forces targeted the Kremenchuk shopping mall, saying they targeted an arsenal nearby. But Ukrainian officials and witnesses said a missile was fired directly at the mall.
This is not the first time that an outbreak of violence has been seen by many as a sign of Moscow’s displeasure. In late April, Russian missiles hit Kyiv just an hour after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy held a press conference with a visit by United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
“This says a lot about Russia’s real attitude towards global institutions,” Zelenskyy said at the time. The mayor of Kyiv called Putin’s attack a way of presenting a “middle finger”.
The Russian president recently warned that Moscow would attack targets it had missed if the West provided Ukraine with weapons that could reach Russia. If Kyiv receives long-range missiles, Russia will “draw the appropriate conclusions and use the means of destruction that we have in abundance,” Putin said.
On Friday, a day after Russian forces made an intense retreat from Snake Island near the Black Sea port city of Odesa following what Ukraine called a series of artillery and missile attacks, Russia shelled the sites. residential area in a coastal town near Odesa and killed at least 21 people, including two children.
While Russia’s message may be blunt and brutal, Ukraine’s signals under Zelenskyy have focused daily on finding ways to amplify Moscow’s cruelty to a world that is increasingly at risk. become tired of war.
If interest wanes, the coordinated support seen at global summits may also fade. and with it the urgency to deliver the heavier weapons Ukraine is craving.
Zelenskyy tends to combine pleas for more help with reminders that ultimately all of Europe is at stake.
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy attends a NATO summit via video link, as Russia’s assault on Ukraine continues, in Kyiv, Ukraine June 29, 2022.
Press Service of the President of Ukraine | Reuters
He described the shopping mall attack as “one of the most daring terrorist attacks in European history.”
For all Ukraine’s undeniable suffering, it’s a bold statement of some exaggeration in the wake of extremist attacks with mass deaths in Paris, Nice, Brussels, Madrid and London. only in this century.
For Zelenskyy and Ukraine, the basic need cannot be repeated enough: to supply more heavy weapons and faster, before Russia can achieve irreversible gains in the industrial area east of the Donbas , where skirmishes took place in the streets.
In her nightly public speeches, Zelenskyy also makes sure to document the traumas of everyday life in Ukraine, drawing even global leaders to the wider world.
This week, he accused Russia of undermining “people’s efforts to lead a normal life.”
Photos of the shopping center’s fuming debris tell the rest.