Teenage twins among 11 killed in Russian attack on restaurant in Ukrainian city

Russia has faced widespread condemnation after missiles destroyed a popular restaurant in eastern Ukraine. Senior International Correspondent John Irvine reports

Fourteen-year-old twin sisters Yuliya and Anna Aksenchenko were among at least 11 people killed after a Russian missile hit a busy pizza restaurant in Kramatorsk, east Ukraine.

Paying tribute to the sisters, the educational department of Kramatorsk city council posted on Telegram: "Russian missiles stopped the beating of the hearts of two angels."

A 17-year-old was also killed in the attack, according to Prosecutor General Andrii Kostin, and another 61 were injured.

Ukrainian authorities have arrested a man in connection with helping Russia direct the missile strike.

The security service believe he is an employee of the local gas transport company and that he filmed the restaurant for the Russians and informed them about its popularity.

"At the epicenter of the explosion were also apartment buildings, commercial premises, cars, a post office and other buildings, in which windows, glass and doors were blown out,” the prosecutor general said in a statement.

Emergency services race to find casualties in the rubble

The attack also damaged 18 multi-storey buildings, 65 houses, five schools, two nurseries, a shopping centre, an administrative building and a recreational building, the regional governor, Pavlo Kyrylenko added.

Rescuers are still searching the rubble for bodies and more survivors.

The strikes occurred just before 8pm local time, and a rescue operation is currently under way in the city centre.

Tuesday's attack came exactly a year after a missile attack on a mall in Kremenchuk, which left 21 people dead and injured scores more.

The White House condemned the "brutal strikes against the people of Ukraine" in response to Tuesday's attack.

A rescue operation is underway in the city centre. Credit: AP

Kramatorsk, with a population of 150,000, has often been targeted by missiles since the start of the war.

It comes just days after a short-lived revolt threatened Putin's control of Russia in what Ukraine welcomed as a 'positive' development in the ongoing war.

The chaos caused by Wagner Group chief Yevgeny Prigozhin's attempted coup on Saturday ended with retreat, but the Kremlin's scramble to secure Moscow as troops marched to upend the country’s military leadership was greeted “with applause” by commanders of Ukraine’s Eastern Group of Forces.

Russia has insisted during the war that it doesn’t aim at civilian targets, although its air strikes have killed many civilians, claims repeated by Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov on Wednesday.

In an attempt to draw a line under the weekend's events, the Russian president flew to the Caspian city of Derbent, in the mostly Muslim region of Dagestan, on the Islamic holiday of Eid al-Adha on Wednesday.

Putin visited an ancient citadel and a historic mosque, met with officials, and walked to cheering crowds next to a fountain, talking to people and shaking hands - rare behaviour for the usually reserved Russian leader.

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know...