russia ukraine war
© ReutersPeople run after the announcement of a Russian missile attack towards Kharkiv, at the site of a hardware hypermarket, which was hit by a Russian air raid, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in Kharkiv, Ukraine
At least seven people have been killed in separate attacks in Ukraine and Russia, according to officials, as Moscow steps up its offensive in northeast Ukraine.

Two Russian missiles hit a hardware hypermarket with about 200 people believed to be inside in the first attack on Saturday, Oleh Syniehubov, Kharkiv's regional governor, said on his Telegram channel.

Four people were killed and at least 38 injured, Syniehubov said, adding that the two of those killed were store employees, and that a fire caused by the explosion was now under control.

"This attack on Kharkiv is another manifestation of Russian madness," said Ukrainian Prime Minister Volodymyr Zelenskyy, reacting to the news of the attack. He noted that the target was not military infrastructure, but one of the biggest shopping centres in the city.

Comment: Footage, and reason, suggest that this was a weapons depot:

Russia has repeatedly claimed that it does not target civilian infrastructure. However, United Nations figures, Ukrainian officials and aid groups have been reporting tens of thousands of civilian casualties since the start of the Russian invasion more than two years ago.

Comment: According to the OCHR the number of fatalities:
OHCHR has estimated the number of deaths of civilians, or non-armed individuals, in Ukraine at 10,582 since the start of the war on February 24, 2022.
which, all things considered, demonstrates that Russia has not been intentionally targeting civilians and their infrastructure. It's why Russia waited until after the harsh winter period to take out energy infrastructure.

"I was at my workplace. I heard the first hit and ... with my colleague, we fell to the ground. There was the second hit and we were covered with debris. Then we started to crawl to the higher ground," witness Dmytro Syrotenko, who had a large gash to his face, told Reuters news agency.

Ivor Terekhov, the mayor of Kharkiv, said a second Russian attack took place in the centre of the city wounding at least 11 people.

Later on Saturday, the governor of southern Russia's Belgorod region said that three people had been killed in two separate Ukrainian attacks in the area.

Vyacheslav Gladkov said that a man and a woman had been killed in the village of Oktyabrsky in a rocket attack and ten others injured. He added that a separate attack on the village of Dubovoye had killed a woman working in her garden.

Gladkov said that air defence units had intercepted 15 airborne targets.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has previously promised to establish a "buffer zone" in Kharkiv in what he calls a response to Kyiv's shelling of Russian border regions such as Belgorod. Russia frequently launches air attacks on Ukraine from the region of Belgorod.

Russian troops launched a cross-border assault on May 10 in the northeastern front of the Kharkiv region. That assault opened a new front in the war in what Kyiv said was an effort to divert its outnumbered troops from the east where the fiercest fighting is taking place.

Comment: Analyst Scott Ritter has recently commented that this indeed does seem to be the tactic and that it will open even more fronts in order to overstretch and overwhelm the Kiev-junta.

Kharkiv - Ukraine's second-largest city which lies about 30 kilometres (18 miles) from the Russian border - has faced a wave of nearly daily attacks that started months ago as Russian forces are pushing forward on the country's eastern front.

Most of the energy infrastructure has been severely damaged in the city, which is still home to around 1.3 million people.

While still far from the city, should Russian forces seize control of Kharkiv, it would test Kyiv's morale, said Al Jazeera's John Holman, reporting from the Ukrainian capital.

"If they manage to get people out and to depopulate the city, that would be seen as a morale boost for Russia and a evastating blow for Ukraine," Holman said.

In their respective messages on the Kharkiv attacks, both Zelenskyy and Syniehubov took the chance to renew a request to Western allies to send more air defence to be able to protect the city.

"When we say to world leaders that Ukraine needs sufficient air defence protection, when we say that real resolve is needed - to be allowed to protect the lives of our people in the way that is most effective," the president said.