At least twelve people were killed, with three children among them, and more than 60 injured in downtown Kramatorsk, Donetsk region, on Tuesday evening when Russian forces targeted civilians with S300 missiles.
"Search and rescue operations and debris removal are ongoing," Ukraine's state emergency service said on social media.
This morning, the Security Service of Ukraine (known as "SBU") arrested a local gas transport company employee in connection with the attack. It alleged he is a Russian GRU agent who was recruited at a distance.
The attack took place just after 7:30 p.m. local time last night. Most of the casualties were dining at or close to the popular outdoor veranda of Ria Pizza, which is in a much-visited district with various shops and eateries.
Among those who died was a 15-year-old girl and a set of 14-year-old female twins, while an eight-month-old infant and three foreigners were among those injured.
Injured infant at Kramatorsk.
One of those critically injured is Victoria Amelina, a prominent Ukrainian writer, who founded a literary festival in Donetsk region and is a Joseph Conrad Prize Awardee. She currently works as a war crimes researcher. Just two days earlier, Amelina gave a poetry reading in Kyiv.
Victoria Amelina, Ukrainian writer and war crimes researcher.
Videos from people on the scene show the scale and brutality of the attack, featuring people with wounds caused by artillery shrapnel and flying debris as others rush to administer first aid.
Among those dining in the restaurant were Dutch volunteers Franky and Coen. Snack bar owners from the Netherlands, they have spent many months in eastern Ukraine distributing free food from their mobile kitchen.
Een raket heeft het restaurant geraakt waar we aan het eten waren in Kramatorsk— Franky & Coen (@FrankyandCoen) June 27, 2023
We hebben slechts lichte verwondingen, maar onze auto is ernstig beschadigd - meer info volgt. pic.twitter.com/ISDZrGGPyM
Another diner was Lila Trokhymets, a Ukrainian volunteer who provides aid to injured soldiers and supports animal shelters in eastern Ukraine. Her brother, Roman, is a soldier with the 3rd Separate Assault Brigade of the Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU).
First-responders, including police, ambulance and firefighters, quickly arrived on the scene to assist casualties and begin rescue operations among the rubble.
Kramatorsk City Council said: “They hit a restaurant. Search and rescue operations are now underway. We will be providing updates on these operations.”
President Volodymyr Zelensky, in his nightly video address, pointed out that the murderous attack came on the first anniversary of Russian shelling of a Kremenchuk shopping center which killed 22 people. He called for accountability.
Exactly on the anniversary of the 🇷🇺 terrorists' attack on Kremenchuk, on the shopping mall, when 22 people were killed, 🇷🇺 savages again fired missiles at the Kremenchuk district.— Volodymyr Zelenskyy / Володимир Зеленський (@ZelenskyyUa) June 27, 2023
Today, 🇷🇺 terrorists also brutally shelled Kramatorsk. S-300 missiles. Unfortunately, there are… pic.twitter.com/u1rra6fCAi
“Each such manifestation of terror proves over and over again to us and to the whole world that Russia deserves only one thing as a result of everything it has done – defeat…trials against all murderers and terrorists,” Zelensky said.
US National Security Council representative John Kirby said that "[the US] condemns Russia's brutal strikes against the people of Ukraine, which have resulted in mass death and destruction and claimed the lives of many Ukrainians.”
Kramatorsk is about 30 kilometers from frontline positions and Russian-occupied territory. On April 8, 2022, as the city was being shelled by Russian forces, up to 4,000 people – mostly women and children – gathered at its railway station in the hope of evacuation. Fifty-three people were killed when Russian forces struck the crowded site with an Iskandr missile at around 10.30 in the morning.
Media affiliated with the so-called Donetsk People's Republic published videos showing a pair of missiles being launched that morning from occupied Shakhtarsk. Russia later blamed Ukraine for the deadly incident.
True to form, Russian propagandists on social media hailed the Ria Pizza event and said the missile strike was against “a large troop concentration” and that there were many English speakers with US Army tattoos at the targeted site.
Kremlin mouthpiece Andriy Solovyov enthusiastically tweeted “It’s a strike!.”
Russian S300 surface-to-air missile system.
Ukrainian police said Russia fired two S-300 surface-to-air missiles at the city – one hitting the restaurant area and another hitting Bilenke, a village outside Kramatorsk. The truck-mounted system can normally fire up to four missiles at once to distances of some 100 kilometers. The system’s main design intention is to destroy enemy aircraft and incoming missiles, but it has been extensively used by Russian forces in Ukraine to hit ground-based targets.
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