Russia Bombs Hardware Superstore in Kharkiv, Killing 6, Ukraine Says

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

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

“For the entire day, Kharkiv has been under Russian terrorist strikes. The air raid in the Kharkiv region has been ongoing for more than 12 hours,” President Volodymyr Zelensky wrote on social media.

Saturday’s attack, Mr. Zelensky added, underscored Ukraine’s recent calls on Western allies to provide it with air defense systems and other weapons capable of shooting down Russian missiles and the planes that launch the bombs. “If Ukraine had sufficient air defenses systems and modern combat aircraft, Russian strikes like this one would have been impossible,” he said.

Videos and photos posted online by Ukrainian officials showed large plumes of black smoke billowing from the superstore, as firefighters scrambled to extinguish a blaze that the authorities said extended over 10,000 square meters.

Kharkiv, currently home to 1.3 million people and located 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 factory in the city, killing seven people and injuring 21. Mr. Zelensky said that 50,000 books were destroyed in a fire caused by the attack.

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

The French president, Emmanuel Macron, condemned Saturday’s attack, writing on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter, that the strikes were “unacceptable.”

Mr. Syniehubov said the hardware superstore, from the Epicentr chain, was hit with two powerful aerial bombs in the middle of the day. The weapons, known as glide bombs, can deliver hundreds of pounds of explosives in a single blast and smash through multistory buildings

Russia has mostly used the bombs to destroy Ukrainian positions on the frontline and to facilitate the advance of its troops — a tactic that proved particularly successful in the capture of the eastern city of Avdiivka in February.

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

The only solution, Ukrainian officials say, would be to shoot down the planes that launch the missiles. But the bombs are designed to fly several dozen miles, allowing Russian warplanes to launch them from inside Russia, far from Ukrainian antiaircraft systems. And Western allies have barred Ukraine from firing Western-supplied long-range missiles into Russia.

“The shelling of Kharkiv, all the deaths of people, children — this is their huge advantage. The daily use of bombs — this is their huge advantage,” Mr. Zelensky said in an interview with The New York Times last week.

The Ukrainian leader has pressed Western allies to lift their ban on firing missiles into Russian territory and to increase the number of F-16 jets, which can shoot down faraway targets, sent to Kyiv.

“Are there suitable weapons in the world to counter this? Yes. Are there suitable weapons better than what Russia has in its arsenal? Yes. Does Ukraine have both of these elements — sufficient quantity and permission? No,” Mr. Zelensky said in the interview.

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