Russia deliberately attacked Ukrainian civilians in Kharkiv missile strike, says Zelensky

Vladimir Putin’s missile attack on a cafe and grocery store in northeastern Ukraine that led to 51 deaths, six injuries and three people left missing was “no blind strike”, said president Volodymyr Zelensky.

The strike is the deadliest in the Kharkiv region since Mr Putin’s Ukraine invasion and also among the biggest civilian death tolls in any single Russian missile attack, especially after January this year.

The missile strike occurred on Thursday afternoon in Kharkiv’s Hroza village where dozens had gathered to mourn a fallen Ukraine soldier, officials said.

“A deliberate missile strike on a village in Kharkiv region on an ordinary store and cafe,” Mr Zelensky said in his nightly video address on Thursday.

“Russian troops could not have been unaware of where they were hitting. This was no blind strike,” he said after attending a summit of the European Political Community in Spain.

Mr Zelensky said a six-year-old boy was among the dead. According to regional officials, families had remained in the village despite a war-time order to evacuate.

The site of the attack showed large piles of bricks, shattered metal and building materials strewn around the cafe and shop struck by a Russian missile. The attack was likely carried out with an Iskander ballistic missile, a Ukrainian minister said, citing preliminary information.

Rescues remove debris at a site of a Russian military strike, amid Russia’s attack on Ukraine, in the village of Hroza


Bodies of the dead were laid out in a field next to a children’s playground as rescue workers were seen making their way and sifting through mounds of debris from the attack.

Regional police investigator Serhiy Bolvinov said they will use DNA laboratories to identify the bodies as they have found only bits and pieces and remains of the bodies.

Officials said the Russian missile hit a service marking a reburial in his home village of a soldier who had died in action elsewhere.

The son of the soldier was also killed in the attack, along with his wife and mother, prosecutors told public broadcaster Suspilne.

“There were only civilians. The boy was from this village. When he died, we were under occupation. The (family) decided to rebury him, to bring him home,” said resident Oleksandr Mukhovatyi.

“Then this happened. Someone betrayed us. The attack was precise, it all landed in the coffee shop.”

He said his mother, brother and sister-in-law were among the dead.

Local officials were sitting down for a meal when the missile struck, interior minister Ihor Klymenko said.

“From every family, from every household, there were people present at this commemoration. This is a terrible tragedy,” he told Ukrainian television.

Defence minister Rustem Umerov said the strike was clearly targeted and Ukrainian security services had launched an investigation into the matter.

“The terrorists deliberately carried out the attack during lunchtime, to ensure a maximum number of casualties,” he said.

“There were no military targets there. This is a heinous crime intended to scare Ukrainians.”

Russia has not issued a comment on the attack in Hroza. It has denied deliberately targeting civilians, but many have been killed in attacks that have hit residential areas as well as energy, defence, port, grain and other facilities.

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