Russia bombs a hardware supermarket in Kharkiv, killing 6 people, Ukraine says

Russia bombed a hardware superstore in the northeastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv on Saturday afternoon, killing at least six people and wounding at least 40 others, Ukrainian officials said. The attack was the latest in a prolonged bombing campaign against the city that has made life increasingly difficult and dangerous for civilians.

Oleh Syniehubov, head of the Kharkiv regional military administration, said 16 people were still missing, suggesting the death toll could rise. He added that another airstrike on Saturday in the center of Kharkiv, Ukraine's second-largest city, wounded at least 14 people.

“For the whole day, Kharkiv was under Russian terrorist attacks. The airstrike in the Kharkiv region has been ongoing for more than 12 hours,” President Volodymyr Zelensky wrote on social media.

Saturday's attack, Zelensky added, underscores Ukraine's recent calls for Western allies to provide air defense systems and other weapons capable of shooting down Russian missiles and bomb-dropping planes. “If Ukraine had sufficient air defense systems and modern fighter aircraft, Russian attacks like this would have been impossible,” he said.

Videos and photos posted online by Ukrainian officials showed large plumes of black smoke rising from the hypermarket, as firefighters rushed to put out a blaze that authorities said spanned 10,000 square meters.

Kharkiv, which is currently home to 1.3 million people and lies just 25 miles from the Russian border, has been increasingly targeted by Russian airstrikes in recent months, in what Ukrainian officials and military experts say is a tactic intended to intimidate residents and create panic.

Saturday's attack came just two days after missiles slammed into a large book printing plant in the city, killing seven people and wounding 21. Zelensky said 50,000 books were destroyed in a fire caused by the attack.

The attack on the printing plant shocked the country, with videos shared online showing charred bodies and piles of books reduced to ash. Kharkiv is a publishing center in Ukraine and many citizens saw the airstrikes as further evidence of the Kremlin's efforts to eradicate Ukrainian culture.

French President Emmanuel Macron condemned Saturday's attack, writing on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter, that the attacks were “unacceptable.”

Mr Syniehubov said the Epicentr chain hardware superstore was hit by two powerful aerial bombs in the middle of the day. The weapons, known as glide bombs, can release hundreds of pounds of explosives in a single explosion and breach multi-story buildings.

Russia has used the bombs primarily to destroy Ukrainian front-line positions and to facilitate the advance of its troops – a tactic that proved particularly effective in capturing the eastern town of Avdiivka in February.

But since March Moscow has also used bombs against Kharkiv. They are difficult to shoot down with air defense systems, leaving people essentially defenseless.

The only solution, Ukrainian officials say, would be to shoot down the planes launching the missile missiles. But the bombs are designed to fly several dozen miles, allowing Russian warplanes to drop them from inside Russia, away from Ukrainian anti-aircraft systems. And Western allies have prevented Ukraine from firing Western-supplied long-range missiles at Russia.

“The bombing of Kharkiv, all the death of people and children – this is their huge advantage. The daily use of bombs – that is their huge advantage,” Zelensky said in an interview with the New York Times last week.

The Ukrainian leader has pressured Western allies to lift the ban on launching missiles into Russian territory and increase the number of F-16 jets, which can shoot down distant targets, sent to Kiev.

“Are there suitable weapons in the world to counter all this? YES. Are there better suitable weapons than Russia has in its arsenal? YES. Does Ukraine have both of these elements: sufficient quantity and authorization? No,” Zelensky said in the interview.

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