The Ukrainian government has repeatedly condemned Russia for its bombardment of residential areas that the besieged country claims have no strategic military equipment.
Today, following a Russian missile strike on the Retroville shopping center in Kyiv, the government has inadvertently backtracked on this position.
Earlier today, the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) announced that they had arrested a TikTokker who had filmed himself identifying the location of Ukrainian artillery near the Retroville mall in Kyiv. Russian intelligence agents were assumed to have noticed the video and a missile strike was conducted on the area as a result.
“The video shows a TikTokker who recently posted materials about the location of the Ukrainian military on the Internet,” the SBU stated. “Subsequently, the shopping center, near which our defenders were, was subjected to a powerful missile strike by the Russian occupiers.”
The Kremlin issued a statement confirming that the bombardment struck the intended target which the Russians claimed was housing rockets used by Ukrainians in nearby multi-launch systems.
But Ukraine initially chose to dispute these assertions. The office of the Prosecutor General condemned the strike as “premeditated murder” that violated “the laws and customs of war” implicitly arguing that the target was illegitimate and solely used by civilians. A pre-trial investigation is underway, but the claims made by the Prosecutor General don’t hold up to scrutiny.
With the arrest of the TikTokker who filmed the site before the strike occurred, the SBU has confirmed that there were indeed legitimate military targets in and around the shopping center. The Times also reported that Ukrainians claimed to have witnessed mobile missile launchers in the area.
And, unfortunately for both the TikTokker and the SBU, the assumption that Russia identified the location from posts on social media is contradicted by the release of aerial surveillance footage by the Kremlin. In the video, a UAV tails a number of Ukrainian military vehicles en route to the mall, indicating that this strike wasn’t the product of a loose-lipped Ukrainian seeking internet fame.
Russian officials have long claimed that Ukraine’s military is using the citizens as ‘meat shields’ to either inhibit Russia’s ability to attack or paint Russia as genocidal to the international community. Media organizations throughout the world have largely scoffed at this claim, but revelations uncovered by the strike at Retroville may indicate that there is some truth there after all.