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

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

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On the night of March 20, a shopping center on 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, footage from the war in Ukraine has shown attacks on supermarkets, raising fears that Russia is “deliberately targeting” these sites to cut off food supplies for Ukrainians, already hit by shortages.

The Retroville Shopping Center is located approximately 10 km northwest from the center of Kyiv. Much of the mall was destroyed late on the night of March 20, as seen 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 debris.

A video posted to Twitter on March 21, 2022 shows the destruction after the bombing of the Retroville shopping center in Kyiv.

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

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

It is not the only supermarket to have been destroyed by Russian bombing. A Megamarket grocery store in Myla, about 20 km west of the center of kyivwas damaged, as shown by satellite images.

Satellite images released by Planet show the destruction of a Megamarket grocery store during the first week of March.

Destroyed grocery stores in Kharkiv

Civilians in Ukraine’s second largest city, Kharkiv, have been particularly hard hit by the Russian strikes. A supermarket in Kharkiv was attacked on March 6. Videos shared on Telegram show many people killed and injured outside the damaged food store.

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

Many markets and shopping centers were destroyed in Kharkiv.

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

In a post on its Facebook page, the Ukrainian State Emergency Service in Kharkiv posted photos of fires in one of Kharkiv’s largest shopping centers caused by Russian shelling on March 17, 2022.

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

The 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 start of the Russian offensive, the Ukrainian Interior Ministry said that 40,000 people in the east of the country were already short of food.

Ukraine had to close its ports after the Russian invasion, stopping imports of goods and food. Martial law, store closures and the general uproar of war have further heightened Ukrainian food concerns.

Employees of Ukrainian supermarkets have come together continue to deliver food and supplies to citizens and attempt to maintain normality despite the war.

The World Food Program has started step up food aid in Ukraine on March 4, distributing food in Ukraine as well as to refugees fleeing borders to neighboring countries. Other local and international organizations have begun to mobilize to ensure that Ukrainian civilians have access to food.

The UN human rights office has expressed concern for the growing number of civilian casualties in Ukraine, saying Russia’s targeting of civilian areas could constitute a war crime.