LONDON (Reuters) -Russia said on Monday it had struck a Kyiv shopping centre with high-precision long-range weapons because it was being used as a rocket store and reloading station by Ukrainian forces.

The Kyiv shopping centre was attacked late on Sunday, killing at least eight people, wrecking nearby buildings and leaving smoking piles of rubble and the twisted wreckage of burned-out cars spread over several hundred metres.

“The areas near the shopping centre were used as a large base for storing rocket munitions and for reloading multiple rocket launchers,” Defence Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov told reporters.

“High-precision long-range weapons on the night of March 21 destroyed a battery of Ukrainian multiple rocket launchers and a store of ammunition in a non-functioning shopping center,” he said.

Konashenkov showed video which he said showed that Ukraine had been using the shopping centre as a weapons store and reloading station.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has killed thousands of people, displaced 10 million and raised fears of a wider confrontation between Russia and the United States.

President Vladimir Putin says the “special military operation” in Ukraine is necessary because the United States was using Ukraine to threaten Russia. Russia, he said, had to defend against the “genocide” of Russian-speaking people by Ukraine.

Ukraine says it is fighting for its existence against a Russian imperial-style land grab and that Putin’s claims of genocide are nonsense.

The West has imposed sweeping sanctions on Russia that the Kremlin says amount to a declaration of economic war by the United States and its allies. China has called for calm.

Moscow says Western media have given a one-sided version of the war while ignoring Russian narratives.

“We would like to again remind Western media: we have given complete evidence showing that the Kyiv nationalistic regime has used civilian objects in residential areas of Kyiv and in other cities as artillery and rocket system firing positions,” Konashenkov said.

Konashenkov said Russia’s operation was being carried out by a professional and well-armed forces and denied Ukrainian claims that Russian forces had hit any civilian objects.

He dismissed Ukrainian claims about Russian losses of personnel and equipment as “propaganda lies”.

(Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge; Editing by Conor Humphries)



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