As Blinken Visits Ukraine, Attack Kills 17 Civilians

Russian missile hit outdoor food market
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 6, 2023 6:48 PM CDT
Russian Strike Kills 17, Wounds 32 at Outdoor Market
Rescue workers puts out a fire after a Russian rocket attack on a food market in the city center of Kostiantynivka, Ukraine, Wednesday, Sept. 6, 2023.   (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka)

A Russian missile tore through an outdoor market in eastern Ukraine on Wednesday, killing 17 people, as US Secretary of State Antony Blinken returned to the country with more than $1 billion in new American funding for Ukraine, including military and humanitarian aid. Blinken's fourth visit was overshadowed by the strike in the city of Kostiantynivka, near the front line in the Donetsk region, that turned the marketplace into an inferno. It was one of the deadliest bombardments of civilians in the 18-month-old war, the AP reports. In addition to the dead, at least 32 people were wounded.

"Those who know this place are well aware that it is a civilian area," President Volodymyr Zelensky said at a news conference with the Danish prime minister in Kyiv. The strike turned the market into a fiery, blackened ruin where weeping civilians looked for loved ones among the mangled, burned bodies scattered across the ground. "There was no military target here. This is a peaceful neighborhood in the city center," Stefan Slovak, who lives in Kostiantynivka, told the AP in a trembling voice. Behind him were the remnants of the market, where charred bodies could be seen in the street, their clothes still burning, near cars engulfed in flames.

Blinken's visit was aimed at assessing Ukraine's 3-month-old counteroffensive and signaling continued US support as some Western allies express worries about Kyiv's slow progress against invading Russian forces. "We want to make sure that Ukraine has what it needs, not only to succeed in the counteroffensive but has what it needs for the long term, to make sure that it has a strong deterrent," Blinken said. About $175 million of the total is in the form of weaponry to be provided from Pentagon stockpiles, and another $100 million is in the form of grants to allow the Ukrainians to purchase additional arms and equipment, according to the State Department.

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Zelensky sa id the strike reflects the situation on the battlefield.

"Whenever there are any positive advances by Ukrainian defense forces in that direction, Russians always target civilian people and civilian objects," he said.

(More Russia-Ukraine war stories.)

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