Verified: Russian Attack on Kharkiv’s Home Depot store (Epicenter) kills 19

In recent weeks, Kharkiv Oblast has experienced a surge in terrorist attacks by the Russian Federation, aimed at weakening Ukrainian resolve. These attacks, combined with psychological operations intended to spread panic, demonstrate a clear strategy. One recent act of terrorism was the precision-guided bomb attack on Ukraine’s Epicenter, a home improvement store filled with civilians, on Saturday morning (May 25) killing 19 so far. Propagandists quickly seized the news, attempting to frame the attack as a Ukrainian fabrication designed to manipulate the West into providing more arms, all against the backdrop of a relatively unsuccessful offensive on a small part of the Kharkiv-Belgorod border.

Russian Narrative: Operation Convince the West to Hand Over Weapons

Legitimate 1,100,000 Follower

“Zelensky’s Yermak’s authorities benefit from the tragedy in every sense, shifting the accents again to the side they favor.”

KARNAUKHOV 147,000 followers

“Strike your own to make all others afraid” 

Yulia Vityazeva 71,000 followers

“When Zelensky talks about madness, meanness and terror, you want to take him to a mirror and smash him into his own reflection.”

Sheikh Tamir 433,000 followers

“Some speculate that this is Zelensky’s handwriting to ask for permission to hit Russian territory with long-range missiles. If the West goes for it, the next level will be nuclear escalation.”


Since the US approved its military aid packages to Ukraine, the situation regarding the Armed Forces of Ukraine’s (AFU) “arms hunger” has significantly improved. On May 17, President Zelensky stated for the first time this year that no unit had complained to him about a lack of artillery. This makes the narrative that Ukraine would resort to a false-flag operation, killing its own people to secure more weapons, completely unfounded.

Firstly, Ukraine, unlike Russia, has demonstrated a strong commitment to the safety of its civilians throughout the whole period of the full-scale invasion. This is evidenced by Zelensky’s persistent calls for the West to provide more air defense systems (as the name implies, primarily for protection) and operations to evacuate civilians from hot spots of the war. 

This is confirmed by Zelensky’s evening address post attack on Kharkiv – 

“This strike on Kharkiv is just another manifestation of Russian insanity. […] When we say to the leaders of the world that Ukraine needs enough air defense, when we say we need real resolve … we’re talking about how to prevent literally these strikes from happening,”

Secondly, unlike Russia, Ukraine has never inflicted death and destruction on its own citizens for political gain. In contrast, during his early years of ruling Russia, it is considered by the majority of experts that Putin ordered the destruction of apartment buildings in 1999, killing 300 of his own people, to consolidate power and justify the Second Chechen War. This difference in approaches further discredits any claims that Ukraine would engage in such acts for military assistance, no matter how much Ukraine needs it. 

Finally, apart from air defense systems, there is no other request from Ukraine for particular weapons at this time. Apart from more Patriot systems (which are on their way, albeit it slower than hoped), Ukraine currently possesses the necessary arms to conduct its operations, apart from F-16 jets (soon expected). The primary issues lie in the temp in which these systems are being provided and the restriction imposed by the US President on Ukraine’s use of American-provided weapons, such as ATACMS, to target Russian bases involved in the attacks on Kharkiv.

Russian Narrative: A Ukrainian Fix/A Ukrainian Detonation

Sheikh Tamir 433,000 followers

“Do professional photographers in bulletproof vests always stand under the Epicenter shopping center?”

Kotsnews 572,000 followers

“Now Budanov has set the task to knock us out of the liberated territories of Kharkiv region at ANY cost. This is not a play on words, it really is at ANY cost”

Colonelcassad 870,000 followers

“A construction supermarket in Kharkov is on fire. Secondary detonation claps are heard.”

Sheikh Tamir 433,000 followers

“And now watch the video that was immediately thrown in by Zelensky How did they edit it so fast?”

Legitimate 1,100,000 followers

“It is worth adding that there could have been a place of provocation. The formula is simple. At night, some crates are brought in on military trucks to the epicenter. They do it in a showy fashion. The Russians pick it up and strike. It’s a type of provocation. “

FRONT Notes 47,000 followers

The farm people [Ukrainians] are beating hysterically and spewing curses at the subject of a fly-by at a hypermarket in Kharkiv that detonates as if it were a warehouse with fireworks. At the same time, it has long been no secret that the premises was used as a warehouse of military equipment and weapons.


A narrative disseminated by Russian propaganda channels was a continuation of the main theme of a “Ukrainian False Flag” operation. To create a false basis for Ukrainian skeptics abroad and the internal Russian audience to believe this narrative, propaganda used tactics such as questioning how photographers were in place at the time of the attack, using this as supposed evidence that Ukraine was behind it. 

Propaganda fails to mention that, since the start of the full-scale war, the number of journalists and photographers in the Kharkiv area has significantly increased to document and inform the West about Russia’s terrorist attacks. As Russia escalated attacks on Kharkiv and launched a small offensive on Vovchansk, the number of journalists ready to cover these events also grew.

Moreover, many foreign and Ukrainian journalists undergo training in Kharkiv to adapt and learn how to operate in a war zone. It provides a challenging environment under constant fire but is a degree safer than operating on the frontlines. And so, another reason journalists and photographers can arrive at the scene minutes after an attack is due to the significant number already working and learning in the city.