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Russian missile strike on Ukraine funeral kills 51

October 5, 2023

Described as "barbarous" and a "war crime," the Russian attack hit civilians gathered for a funeral in Ukraine's Kharkiv region. In Moscow, Russian President Vladimir Putin warned of future nuclear attacks.

A firefighter stands amid the smoldering rubble left by a Russian missile attack in the Kharkiv village of Hroza
Ukraine and its allies say Russia's targeting of civilians was deliberate Image: OLEH SYNIEHUBOV/REUTERS

A Russian missile strike on Thursday killed at least 51 civilians in the northeastern Kharkiv region of Ukraine.

The attack hit a group of people gathered for a funeral in the village of Hroza, which has a population of 330 people.

Local officials say they have found evidence that a Russian Iskander missile was used in the attack, which occurred at around 1:15 p.m. local time (1000 GMT).

Speaking of the incident, Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak said: "This is a reminder to anyone who is willing to smile and shake hands with war criminal [Russian President Vladimir] Putin at international conferences. Putin's Russia is a true evil."

Russian strike kills at least 51 in eastern Ukraine

Universal condemnation of Russian 'barbarity' at EU summit

The attack was universally condemned by Ukraine and its allies.

Speaking at a summit meeting of the European Political Community in Granada, Spain, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell called it, "yet another heinous attack against innocent civilians."

"Intentional attacks against civilians are war crimes. Russia's leadership, all commanders, perpetrators and accomplices of these atrocities will be held to account. There will be no impunity for war crimes," Borrell added.

The attack "illustrates Russia's barbarity," said UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. "President Putin can say all he likes. There is one person responsible for this illegal unprovoked war, and it is him... That's why the UK has been steadfast in supporting Ukraine and will continue to do so."

Children among the dead in 'deliberate act of terrorism'

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, in Granada to drum up further support from his allies, said the attack was a Russian attempt "to make its genocidal aggression the new norm for the whole world."

Noting that a 6-year-old boy was among the dead, Zelenskyy said the "demonstrably brutal Russian crime" was "a completely deliberate act of terrorism."

After the attack, Ukrainian police posted images of smoldering rubble and dead bodies being removed from the scene. Local officials said search and rescue operations were still ongoing, adding that more bodies might be buried under collapsed buildings at the site of the strike.

Zelenskyy earlier posted a video of mourners grieving over the bodies of those killed in the attack.

Ukraine: A childhood on the frontline

Ukraine looking for air-defense assistance before Russian winter onslaught

Hroza, the target of the attack, is more than 30 kilometers (19 miles) from the front-line city of Kupiansk, where Russian troops are seeking to regain territory lost to Ukraine last year.

The entire region had originally fallen under Russian control after Moscow launched its invasion on February 24, 2022. Ukraine recaptured parts of it in September 2022.

Zelenskyy and Defense Minister Rustem Umerov are pleading with allies gathered in Spain to help them beef up their air-defense capabilities before the onset of winter.

"The key for us, especially before winter, is to strengthen air defense, and there is already a basis for new agreements with partners," said Zelenskyy.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Thursday stepped in to promise delivery of yet another of Berlin's US-made Patriot air-defense systems, the fourth Berlin has given so far. The US and the Netherlands have also provided one each.

Last year, Russia specifically targeted key Ukrainian infrastructure with missile and drone attacks, repeatedly leading to power outages and cutting off heat for millions of citizens. It is expected that Russia's war effort will again target such infrastructure in an attempt to break the will of the Ukrainian people.

Zelenskyy said he needed, "additional air-defense systems for Ukraine, additional artillery and shells, additional long-range missiles and drones for our soldiers, as well as additional formats of support and security guarantees for nations threatened by Russia."

Defiant Putin again threatens nuclear escalation

Meanwhile, in Moscow, Russian President Vladimir Putin issued yet another threat to the West, announcing that his country had successfully tested a new strategic missile, hinting at the possibility of new nuclear testing.

After commenting on the test of the Burevestnik nuclear-capable cruise missile, which has a range of several thousand kilometers, Putin said no one in their right mind would consider an attack on Russia.

He warned that if they ever attempted a nuclear assault, "such a number of our missiles — hundreds, hundreds — would appear in the air that not a single enemy would have a chance of survival."

Ex-general: NATO has to be prepared to fight Russia

js/nm (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)