Ukraine says suspect directed Russia missile attack in Kramatorsk

Ukraine’s President Zelenskyy says man who allegedly ‘spotted’ for Russian forces attack on restaurant to be charged with treason.

Ukraine has arrested a man accused of directing the Russian missiles that hit a restaurant in the country’s city of Kramatorsk, killing at least 12 people and wounding more than 60, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and security officials said.

Two sisters, both aged 14, were among three teenagers killed in the attack on Tuesday evening that hit the Ria Pizza restaurant in the city centre, which was popular with locals, soldiers, aid workers and journalists. The other teenager killed was 17, according to Prosecutor General Andrii Kostin.

Ukrainian security officials said the man it arrested, an employee of a fuel transportation company, was suspected of filming the restaurant for Russian forces and informing them about its popularity.

“The Security Service of Ukraine together with the police special forces detained the person who coordinated this terrorist attack,” Zelenskyy said in his nightly address to the nation on Wednesday.

“Everyone who helps Russian terrorists destroy life deserves the maximum punishment. And this applies not only to some collaborators,” he said.

“The spotter is being charged with treason. The possible punishment is life imprisonment. Accomplices of a terrorist state must be treated as betrayers of humanity,” he added, warning that more bodies may yet be found beneath the rubble of the restaurant.


Officials initially said Tuesday’s attack on the restaurant involved a Russian S-300 missile, a surface-to-air weapon that Moscow’s forces have repurposed for loosely-targeted attacks on cities, but Ukraine’s National Police later said Iskander short-range ballistic missiles were used.

Kramatorsk is a front-line city that houses the Ukrainian Army’s regional headquarters.

The death toll from the attack rose to 12 on Thursday following the discovery of another body, Ukraine’s emergency services said, as rescuers continued to search through rubble for possible survivors in a city where last year, about six weeks after the start of Moscow’s full-scale invasion, 52 civilians were killed in a Russian missile attack on a train station.

Tuesday’s missile attack also damaged 18 multi-story buildings, 65 houses, five schools, two kindergartens, a shopping centre, an administrative building and a recreational building, Ukraine’s Donetsk regional Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said.

Three Colombian citizens were also injured in the attack on the restaurant, Colombia’s President Gustavo Petro said in a tweet on Wednesday, adding that Bogota would lodge a diplomatic protest with Moscow for the attack that had harmed “defenceless Colombian civilians”.

The three injured Colombians were identified as well-known writer Hector Abad Faciolince, former Colombian peace negotiator Sergio Jaramillo and journalist Catalina Gomez. Abad and Jaramillo were reported to be on a mission to express Latin American solidarity with the people of Ukraine.

[Russia has attacked three defenceless Colombian civilians. It thus violates the protocols of war. The Foreign Ministry must deliver a diplomatic note of protest. We await the safe and sound return to their homes of Sergio, Héctor and Catalina.]

On social media, the Colombians said they were with Ukrainian writer Victoria Amelina in the restaurant at the time of the attack and that she was in critical condition.

Russia has insisted that it does not attack civilian targets, although its missiles have killed many civilians and destroyed civilian infrastructure – such as homes and businesses – across the country.

The Russian Ministry of Defence said on Wednesday that its forces had hit a facility used by Ukrainian army officers in Kramatorsk but did not mention the pizza restaurant.

“Strikes are only carried out on objects that are in one way or another linked to military infrastructure,” said Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov.

“The Russian Federation does not carry out strikes on civilian infrastructure,” he said.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies