Update (7/14/22): Russia has destroyed another shopping mall in broad daylight, this time without even the pretense of a nearby "legitimate" target. This pretty much removes any doubt that they actively targeted the Kremenchuk Mall, and will continue to do so as long as the world lets them get away with it.
By now most people have seen the footage from the aftermath of the Russian missile strike that hit a crowded shopping mall in Kremenchuk, Ukraine on June 27th. This is just one of dozens of videos from that day:
Ukraine claims that Russia intentionally targeted the busy shopping mall as retaliation for the HIMARS strikes on Russian command posts the previous days. Russia claims that they actually struck the Kredmash Machining Plant, which they claim was housing NATO donated weaponry. They claim that it was these munitions cooking off that actually damaged the nearby shopping mall.
New footage from security cameras in the area can give us a much clearer picture of what actually happened:
To figure out what we are seeing here, we need to start by getting a better sense for geographic layout of the area. On the map below I've marked locations of the mall in yellow, the factory in red, the pair of runners in blue, the father and child (presumably) in green, the lone person by the boat in white, and the people in the gazebo in purple. Arrows indicate direction of attention for each group of people.
Analyzing the various angles from the park's security cameras gives us an excellent idea of what exactly happened yesterday. I'm going to organize the follow analysis by the play time of the video, not by the actual timestamps of the security cameras, in order to make it easier to follow along with. The colors listed next to each video timestamp refer to the colors of the circles on the image above, and indicate the location of the camera recording the footage.
Video Time 00:00-00:09 (Blue):
This camera is in the same general location as Blue (the runners), but is facing East, so it does not have a view of anything other than debris falling into the pond and the area where the person at White takes cover.
Video Time 00:09-00:16 (Blue):
You can see the pair of runners hear the first explosion, though from where they are they are clearly unable to see the source of the noise. They look across the pond and see people reacting to whatever it is they can't see themselves. There is no debris raining down, so we can be certain explosion seen from the first camera is the second explosion.
Video Time 00:16-00:32 (Blue):
The second explosion occurs very close to the runners. This is where we can see the debris rain down exactly as in the first section of the video. The man throws himself into the pond and the woman takes off running Northwest (toward Green).
Video Time 00:32-00:42 (Green):
Here we see the man react to the first explosion by grabbing his child and running for the cover of a tree. The smoke from the first explosion can be seen clearly in the distance at the top center of the video (yellow).
Video Time 00:42-00:55 (Green):
The second explosion is clearly visible, and much closer than the first. Once again we see the debris raining down into the pond. The runners (blue) are obscured from this angle, but the reflection of the explosion in the pond shows you exactly where they would be.
Video Time 00:56-01:12 (White):
We see the lone person near the boat beginning to stand back up after the first explosion, then trying to take cover after the second. The large piece of debris hitting the pond makes it very clear that the second explosion is the one that was captured by the first camera in this video. The top image here is from the White location, while the bottom image is from the first camera with a view of White.
Video Time 01:12-01:20 (Purple):
We can see the people in the gazebo immediately reacting to the first explosion. They cover their ears and begin running across the bridge.
Video Time 01:19-01:20 (Purple):
The runners (Blue) can be seen clearly in the background, pausing in front of the Kredmash Plant and trying to figure out what is happening.
Video Time 01:20-01:43 (Purple):
Once again the second explosion can be seen very close to the runners (Blue). You see the man throw himself into the pond, and the woman take off running Northwest (towards Green).
So what does all this tell us about what happened?
- It's very clear the shopping mall was struck before the Kredmash Plant.
- Since the shopping mall was struck first, it is impossible for anything within the plant to have caused the damage at the mall
- The Kredmash Plant was struck, indicating that there is at least the possibility that the mall was not intentionally targeted.
The fact that the plant was struck lends a little credence to the Russian story that they attacked it because they believed it to be storing military hardware. This would make the plant a military target. However, their claims that damage to the plant caused secondary explosions that damage the shopping mall are completely, verifiably, false.
What actually happened is the Russian military destroyed the Kremenchuk Shopping Mall first, then caused damage to the Kredmash Plant second. Intentional or not, the destruction of a busy civilian shopping mall is absolutely a war crime.