A Russian missile kills 17 people in the market of a municipality in Ukraine near the war front | International

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At least 17 people died this Wednesday in eastern Ukraine, when a Russian missile hit the market in Kostiantinivka, a municipality located 10 kilometers from the war front in the province of Donetsk. The injured number 34, according to the Ministry of the Interior. The authorities have not specified how many of the victims are civilians and how many are soldiers, but the death of at least one minor has been confirmed.

A security camera recorded the moment of impact. It was the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky, who made the video public. It was a few minutes past two in the afternoon (an hour less in mainland Spain) and the area was little traveled. The people who appear in the images are all civilians, although some injured soldiers are also identified in videos of the rescue efforts. Kostiantinivka is a front city under permanent threat in these almost 19 months of war and where hundreds of soldiers have their rear base. Russian artillery shells fell on the municipality last Tuesday, wounding five civilians, according to the Donetsk military administration. Images of this Wednesday's attack confirm that the missile does not hit any military target: it directly hits a civilian commercial area.

The most recent Russian bombing with numerous civilian casualties occurred on August 19 in Chernihiv, killing seven people and injuring 90. The objective of the Russian invader on that occasion was a conference of national drone producers, which was held in the city's main theater. A cruise missile killed 10 civilians on July 6 in Lviv, western Ukraine.

Zelensky was very harsh in his message about the attack through his social networks: “Anyone in the world who continues to associate with anything that is Russian simply ignores reality. It is atrocious evil. The blatant evil, the total inhumanity.” In a subsequent intervention with the Prime Minister of Denmark, Mette Frederiksen, visiting Kiev, the Ukrainian president insisted that what was perpetrated by Russia "is a deliberate act of terrorism." “The attack was against a market, in stores, in a pharmacy, it is a civilian area, there are no military units nearby. They already did it before, when there are positive steps in the Ukrainian offensive, Russia always responds by shooting at civilians and civilian targets,” he added.

Kostiantinivka had a pre-invasion population of 70,000 people. The current population could be close to 20%, the average that remains in the Donetsk towns close to the war front. This municipality is located between two of the main war centers of the moment, 12 kilometers from Bakhmut and 35 kilometers from Avdiivka. Media access to Kostiantinivka is severely restricted by the Ukrainian Armed Forces, citing the need to limit disclosure of sensitive information about the ongoing counteroffensive.

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Mikola Bielieskov, a member of the National Institute for Strategic Studies – an organization dependent on the Ukrainian presidency – shared this Wednesday a map of the deadliest attacks against civilians in Russia. The worst so far continues to be the April 2022 bombing of the Kramatorsk train station, also in Donetsk province, which left 61 dead and 121 injured.

EL PAÍS has been able to verify in recent weeks that residents who had left highly dangerous municipalities such as Kostiantinivka are being forced to return due to the lack of income that would allow them to maintain a home in the city of refuge. This was the case of Svetlana Svit, a 59-year-old woman who left Kupiansk, on the Kharkiv war front, last winter, but who had to return two months ago, along with the rest of her family, because they could not continue paying the rent. rent in Kirovograd, in the center of the country. Svit explained that as a refugee she received monthly help from the State of 2,000 hryvnias (50 euros).

Blood stains at the site of the Russian attack on a market in Kostyantynivka, Donetsk region, Ukraine, this Wednesday. ALEX BABENKO (EFE)

The carnage caused by Russia in Kostiantinivka has also coincided with the visit to kyiv of Antony Blinken, the United States Secretary of State. Blinken's two-day trip to Ukraine should serve to evaluate the counteroffensive after three months in progress and to reiterate American support for the attacked country at a time when some allies — as well as Pentagon sources — have expressed concern about the slow Ukrainian progress on the battlefield. Last week, the White House had highlighted the advances of these troops in the southeast.

“We want to make sure that Ukraine has what it needs, not only to be successful in this counteroffensive, but also in the long term, to ensure that it has a sufficient deterrent,” declared the head of US diplomacy. This is the third time Blinken has traveled to kyiv since the start of the war, but it is the first time he has spent a night there. He plans to return this Thursday.

$1 billion in US aid

During the first day of his trip, Blinken met with the Ukrainian Prime Minister, Denis Shmyhal, with the Foreign Minister, Dmitro Kuleba, and at the end of the day, with Zelensky himself. The Secretary of State has assured Zelensky that the recent Ukrainian advances on the Zaporizhia front, towards the Sea of ​​Azov, "are very, very, very hopeful." Blinken added that his government is closely analyzing the situation to understand what “immediate” needs Ukraine has, but also in the long term.

The Reuters agency announced that in these conversations a new amount of 1 billion dollars (933 million euros) in assistance to Ukraine would be announced. The United States has so far provided aid to Ukraine valued at more than 104 billion euros, most of it military material.

Blinken assured in his meeting with Kuleba that the United States has seen “good progress” in the counteroffensive. “It's very encouraging,” he added. After his meeting with Shmyhal, he stressed that he is in Ukraine to reaffirm his country's support. “To help ensure that they have military success against aggression, but also to support them and ensure the success of their efforts in building a strong economy and democracy,” he added.

According to sources from the State Department, these meetings were scheduled to address possible alternative routes for the export of Ukrainian grain after Russia has abandoned the Black Sea initiative and given its frequent bombing of the ports in the Odessa region that they use. the Danube River for trade to Europe.

On the route to Kiev by train from Poland, Blinken also spoke with the Danish Frederiksen, to thank his country's efforts in training Ukrainian pilots in the operation of the F-16 fighters. Denmark approved the delivery of 19 units of its F-16s to the Ukrainian Air Force, a decision that required prior authorization from Washington, as they were aircraft produced in the United States.

The start of Blinken's third visit to Ukraine came a few hours after a new large-scale Russian bombing of the capital. Cruise and ballistic missiles were fired shortly before six in the morning. All the rockets were intercepted by the anti-aircraft defenses, but the remains of one of them fell on the town center, destroying 11 vehicles parked on the street.

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