Claim: Kremenchuk mall attack was a false flag


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After a missile has struck the Amstor Shopping Mall in Kremenchuk, we are already seeing allegations that this attack is a Ukrainian false flag. According to the following pro-Russian twitter account 'Russians With Attitude', the attack was perpetrated by Russia... But against a factory allegedly engaging in Military Repairs:

Looking at satellite images of Google maps, there is a factory north of the shopping centre, name translates to 'Kremenchuk Road Machine Factory', or Kredmash:
Screen Shot 2022-06-28 at 11.38.36 pm.pngAccording to the about page of the factory, it appears to be geared towards manufacturing asphalt mixing machinery [Translation]:
Today Kremenchug Road Machinery Plant (Kredmash) Private Joint-Stock Company is a leading manufacturer of asphalt mixing plants and spare parts for them.

Since the production of the first asphalt mixing plant in 1949, the Kredmash plant has produced more than twenty-one thousand asphalt concrete mixers, many of which have been in construction for more than 30 years.
But even assuming the factory can be put to military use, it does not rule out a deliberate targeting of the shopping centre.

On June 29, new footage of the attack from a park near the factory was released:

At 1:21 into the video, we witness where the explosion came from, specifically from the northern edge of the factory. This is a Google streetview image for comparison:
Screen Shot 2022-06-29 at 12.46.10 am.png
But that's not the only missile strike. At 0:33 in the video, smoke can be seen rising from the factory before the explosion was observed. This likely is the missile that hit the mall. However, RWA alleges that as the missiles supposedly hit close to one another, the first one actually hit the southern end of the factory, and hence it can be inferred that flaming debris from the factory caused the fire:

They then shared another account that geolocated the first shot, with the red marker indicating where the video was filmed:

The first screenshot in the former tweet was of a video from the account of Anton Herashchenko, former People's Deputy of Ukraine:

The smoke cloud from the first strike rose behind this building (the Kredmash HQ):
Screen Shot 2022-06-29 at 1.27.23 am.png
And from Herashchenko's video, we observe the missile trajectory:
Screen Shot 2022-06-29 at 1.33.28 am.png
And the formation of the smoke cloud at the far end of the building:
Screen Shot 2022-06-29 at 1.32.14 am.png
The smoke cloud rises in between the sign on top of the building (circled in purple) and the far right (or southern) corner of the top of the building, where the entrance building to the rooftop is located (circled in green).

Notice the back of the blue billboard. If we look at the front of the billboard in Google Streetview, we can see that the video was taken from a gas station:
Screen Shot 2022-06-29 at 1.44.56 am.png
This is the gas station in question:
Screen Shot 2022-06-29 at 1.49.14 am.png
Assuming that the red marker indicating the view of the camera from the RWA tweet is valid, we can draw a second perspective view of the smoke columns from the camera's point of view:
Screen Shot 2022-06-29 at 1.55.12 am.png
And immediately we noticed a problem. The original geolocation from RWA doesn't extend the line fully to the Amstor mall, but cut it off right at the southern end of the factory. If we do extend the line, it lines up quite well with the mall. And given the sheer size of the smoke cloud from the mall:

It is reasonable to conclude that the cloud would have risen behind the building from the view from the gas station. But the final piece of the puzzle is this tweet from RWA who claim as there was no crater, a missile couldn't have hit the mall:

Why isn't there a crater in that second image, I dunno. It is only a partial view of the Amstor mall, so perhaps another shot will show a crater. If you guys can contribute, please do.


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According to the BBC, the missile struck near the eastern end of the Amstor Mall:
Matching the exact spots where the two missiles land in the CCTV video with aerial images of the area, it appears one missile hit close to the eastern end of the shopping centre, while the other struck the northern end of the factory, near the southern edge of the pond.
The BBC cites the following Twitter thread:

Another poster in the same thread showed videos of intact glass bottles somewhere in the mall:

The video was from Herashchenko's Telegram:

Now I think the reason why the bottles are intact is that they could be far from the impact site at the southwestern corner, and thus survived relatively unscathed.

Based on this new data, here is the updated geolocation from the gas station:
Screen Shot 2022-06-29 at 2.54.01 am.png
The green and magenta arrows show the possible range where the missile strike occurred. Given that the front of the mall was relatively unscathed, the green arrow is more likely indicative of where the missile strike occurred.
I haven't studied the details, but as The Times (London) is paywalled, I will give an extract from the online edition today:

The Russian military claimed that it had struck a weapons depot in central Ukraine and the resulting explosions hit a closed shopping mall.
The strike hit “a depot with weapons and ammunition from the USA and European countries in the vicinity of the Kremenchuk automobile factory”, the army said in a statement. “The explosions of ammunition for western weapons sparked a fire in the nearby shopping mall, which was not operational at the time.”

Assuming that this is an accurate translation from a genuine Russian Army statement, it amounts to an admission that the damage to the shopping mall is the result of a Russian attack, though in this version an unintended side-effect of an attack on a 'legitimate' target (in so far as any part of an illegal aggression can be legitimate). Or 'collateral damage', to use a familiar phrase.

Be that as it may, it rules out any suggestion that the incident is either a Ukrainian false flag attack, or the result of an accidental explosion of ammunition stored in the mall itself. Both of these theories were reputedly circulated by Russian official sources earlier today.

The article also quotes witnesses and survivors of the incident confirming that people were shopping in the mall at the time, contrary to the claim that it was 'not operational'. Its is odd, but not unprecedented, that the Russians would invent false details about matters that they couldn't possibly know.

The Times online edition is updated throughout the day, so this version may not correspond to any printed edition.
For comparison, this happened the day before:
Russian forces conducted a massive missile strike against the Schevchenkivskyi district of Kyiv on June 26, [...] Ukrainian government sources reported that Russian forces targeted infrastructure in the Shevchenkivskyi district using X101 missiles fired from Tu-95 and Tu-160 bombers over the Caspian Sea [..] Open-source Twitter account GeoConfirmed stated that the strikes targeted the general vicinity of the Artem State Joint-Stock Holding Company, a manufacturer of air-to-air missiles, automated air-guided missile training and maintenance systems, anti-tank guided missiles, and aircraft equipment. GeoConfirmed noted that Russian forces likely fired the missiles from the maximum possible range, which would have interfered with GPS and radar correlation and resulted in the strike hitting civilian infrastructure, [..].

I conclude from this:

• Ukraine didn't need to stage false flag attacks, as recent real Russian attacks hitting civilian infrastructure are well documented.

• "precision" ammunition isn't always as precise as the name suggests

• The simplest explanation is that Russia tried to hit the Kredmash plant, but missed—as with the Artem plant the day before.

• The idea that Russia intended to hit the mall, making it look like a miss, has some merit, but there is no evidence for it—it's a conspiracy theory.

• The idea that Ukraine staged this as a false flag seems implausible, because with the two missile impacts, it looks like the mall wasn't the intended target. If Ukraine set up a false flag, wouldn't they want to make it so that the strike looked like Russia was intentionally targeting the civilians?
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with the Russian Kh-22 clearly visible
June 12

The Kh-22 missiles were primarily designed to destroy aircraft carriers using a nuclear warhead. When used in ground attacks with conventional warheads, they “are highly inaccurate and therefore can cause severe collateral damage and casualties,” the [U.K. Defense] ministry said.

I don't quite know how to interpret this:
The circular probable deviation of Kh-22 missiles when firing at areas is 5 km.
It'd be great to have a better source for the accuracy of these missiles.
I don't quite know how to interpret this:
The circular probable deviation of Kh-22 missiles when firing at areas is 5 km.
It'd be great to have a better source for the accuracy of these missiles.
Presumably a gaussian with sigma_x ~= sigma_y ~= 5km. Of course, that's simplistic, as the short/long miss will have a different distribution from the left/right miss, but if you want it reduced to one parameter you have to make compromises.


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June 12

The Kh-22 missiles were primarily designed to destroy aircraft carriers using a nuclear warhead. When used in ground attacks with conventional warheads, they “are highly inaccurate and therefore can cause severe collateral damage and casualties,” the [U.K. Defense] ministry said.

I don't quite know how to interpret this:
The circular probable deviation of Kh-22 missiles when firing at areas is 5 km.

The circular error probable (CEP) is by definition the radius of a circle where half of the rounds are expected to land. Unfortunately I doubt it's possible to find reliable informations about the actual CEP of Kh-22 (or of any other long range missile for that matter).

The 5km/3 miles figure has been reported also elsewhere, for instance in this May 11 article from The War Zone (interesting article, by the way):

A 5km CEP is credible for the original Kh-22 in anti-ship role (a 1960s design!), where CEP matters little because the target itself moves, so the missile just needs to reach relatively near the target, afterwhich an active radar seeker is turned on to locate the target and guide the missile onto it (or the target is engaged with a wide-rage nuclear blast).

The anti-ship radar seeker is useless against ground targets and here the CEP comes into play. I find it hard to believe the munitions launched on Kremenchuk had a CEP of 5km, it's impossible to know what the Russian really targeted of course, but the mall lies at about 300m from the center of the factory:

So I'd guess the munitions used in Kremenchuk had a CEP in the order of the hundreds of meter, say 200m - 500m, possibily even more, but much less than 5km, thus pointing to an upgraded version of the Kh-22 in respect to what it was in the 1960s-1970s when originally introduced, possibly now called Kh-32. In any case a pretty lousy CEP for a 'precision' weapon to be used on a city. For reference I have seen HiMARS reported having a 5m circular error probable, but CEP values are highly sensitive data so everything should be taken with some grain of salt.
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Google maps the closest you can get
The mall is about 200 meters straight ahead in the above photo

Heres a video shot and uploaded to youtube of the mall a day before the attack
(edit) cant embed video), so linking Video
From reddit I have read some people have been claiming the mall was closed down, and they can not believe people would go to the mall during a time of war. From my time in Ukraine its pretty much business as usual (of course with restrictions/curfews etc) but people still have to work/eat/shop. What do these redditors think people should do, just hide in their basements for months, living off canned food? Esp since Kremenchuk is over 200km away from the nearest front line.
Personally I don't think the Kremlin tried to hit the mall, its just an accident, but nothing is failsafe.
This will become more commonplace I fear since the kremlin's more advanced missile stocks are becoming depleted they are forced to rely on older and less reliable weapons.