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Fears of food shortages after Russian attacks on grocery stores in Ukraine

Fears of food shortages after Russian attacks on grocery stores in Ukraine

On the night of March 20, a shopping mall in the outskirts of Kyiv was hit by a Russian missile strike, killing at least eight people. Russia has been accused of targeting civilian infrastructure – apartment buildings, schools and hospitals –during its offensive in Ukraine. In recent weeks, images of the war in Ukraine show attacks on supermarkets, raising concerns that Russia is “deliberately targeting” such sites to cut off food supplies to Ukrainians, already hit by shortages.

The Retroville shopping centre is located approximately 10 km northwest of central Kyiv. Much of the mall was destroyed late on the night of March 20, as shown in videos of the wreckage posted online the next day. The New York Times reported that no military equipment or vehicles were found among the wreckage.

Aftermath of the attack in Kyiv. pic.twitter.com/cJTjZp0BqC

— Paul Ronzheimer (@ronzheimer) March 21, 2022

A video posted on Twitter on March 21, 2022 shows the destruction after shelling on the Retroville shopping centre in Kyiv.

Photos of the shopping centre posted on Google Maps prior to the attack show that it contained a variety of stores, including Novus, a supermarket, as well as restaurants, clothing and home goods stores. When the Russian invasion began on February 24, Retroville posted on its Facebook page that the mall would be temporarily closed, but that the grocery store would continue operating in a limited capacity.

A photo posted on Google Maps in February 2022 shows the supermarket located in Retroville shopping centre. © Google Maps

This isn’t the only supermarket to be destroyed by Russian shelling. A Megamarket grocery store in Myla, around 20 km west of central Kyiv, was damaged, as shown in satellite imagery.

Russia’s deliberate destruction of Ukraine’s food stores and grocery shops is painfully evident from @planet satellite imagery, with large grocery stores destroyed and deliberately targeted.

This is the newly constructed Megamarket in Myla, destroyed in the first week of March. https://t.co/2r4muTDKCu pic.twitter.com/YC70QktvU4

— Nathan Ruser (@Nrg8000) March 21, 2022

Satellite imagery released by Planet shows the destruction of a Megamarket grocery store in the first week of March.

Grocery stores destroyed in KharkivCivilians in Ukraine’s second-largest city of Kharkiv have been particularly impacted by Russian strikes. A supermarket in Kharkiv was the target of an attack on March 6. Videos shared on Telegram show numerous people killed and injured outside of the damaged food shop.

A video posted on Telegram on March 6, 2022 shows destruction and blood on the ground in front of a Kharkiv supermarket. A video filmed just before, which the FRANCE 24 Observers team has chosen not to publish due to its graphic nature, shows bloodied bodies on the ground in front of the store.

Numerous markets and shopping centres have been destroyed in Kharkiv. 

A strike damaged the Barabashovo market in Kharkiv on March 18, 2022.

In a post on their Facebook page, the State Emergency Service of Ukraine in Kharkiv posted photos of fires in one of the largest shopping centres in Kharkiv, caused by Russian shelling on March 17, 2022.

Other videos shared online show markets and food stores damaged in Kharkiv and in nearby Chuhuiv.

These attacks come as severe food and water shortages have been reported across Ukraine, particularly in the cities of Kyiv and Kharkiv. Less than a week after the Russian offensive began, Ukraine’s Interior Ministry said that 40,000 people in the east of the country were already lacking adequate food supplies. 

Ukraine had to close its ports after the Russian invasion, stopping imports of goods and food supplies. Martial law, store closures and the general tumult of war has further exacerbated food concerns among Ukrainians. 

Employees at Ukrainian supermarkets have come together to keep offering food and supplies to citizens and attempt to maintain normality despite the war.

The World Food Programme began ramping up its food aid to Ukraine on March 4, distributing food within Ukraine as well as to refugees fleeing across borders to nearby countries. Other local and international organisations have begun mobilising to ensure Ukrainian civilians have access to food. 

The UN rights office has expressed concern for the increasing number of civilian casualties in Ukraine, saying that Russia’s targetting of civilian zones could amount to a war crime.

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