At least 16 people were killed in a Russian airstrike on a market in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kostyantynivka, officials said. "There is also a child among them," Prime Minister Denys Schmyhal said on Telegram. Another 30 people were injured.
Videos posted online claiming to show the moment of the blast showed a missile slamming into a crowded street with a huge fireball; Debris flew through the air, fires broke out, dead people littered the streets and people ran for their lives. It was one of the most devastating attacks in weeks. Russia always emphasizes that it only attacks military targets.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky confirmed the Russian attack and the many deaths in the city in the Donetsk region. "A normal market. Shops. A pharmacy. People who did nothing wrong," he wrote, offering his condolences to the victims' families.
He spoke of the "impudence of evil". It was initially unclear what exactly hit the projectile. Some local media assumed an S-300 missile. The city is just 20 kilometers southwest of Bakhmut, which the Russians occupied in the course of their war of aggression, and has repeatedly been the target of Russian attacks.
EU condemns the attack
The UN humanitarian coordinator in Ukraine, Denise Brown, said the attack was another example of "the suffering that the Russian invasion is inflicting on civilians across the country." The EU also condemned the attack. "Intentional attacks on civilians are war crimes. All commanders, perpetrators and accomplices of these atrocities will be held accountable," said a spokesman for EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell in Brussels.
Blinking: counter-offensive progress
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has meanwhile arrived in the Ukrainian capital Kiev for a visit. There he expressed confidence in the fight of the Ukrainian army against the Russian invaders. "We've seen good progress on the counteroffensive. We want to make sure that Ukraine has everything it needs to make this offensive a success," Blinken said at a meeting with his Ukrainian colleague Dmytro Kuleba, according to the US State Department. "In the long term," the goal is to strengthen Ukraine's deterrence and defense capabilities. A renewed Russian attack like 18 months ago should be prevented.
New US military package for Ukraine
The US is also providing additional military aid to Ukraine. The US Department of Defense announced in Washington that the new package was worth 175 million dollars (around 163 million euros). It includes, among other things, equipment to support air defense, ammunition for the Himars multiple rocket launchers and artillery ammunition. According to the Pentagon, the United States has provided or pledged more than $43 billion in military aid since the war began in late February 2022. Denmark's Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen also traveled to Kiev and promised further help from her country.
Heavy fighting in the south and east
Meanwhile, the Ukrainian army's offensive in the southern Zaporizhzhia region continued to progress slowly, according to Ukrainian sources. The strategic aim of the attacks is to break through to the Sea of Azov, about 80 kilometers away, in order to cut off the land connection to the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea, which Russia has annexed. However, Russia has heavily fortified its own lines in the region since last year and has created wide minefields and trenches.
"We were successful in the Robotyne section in the direction of Novoprokopivka and are holding on to the positions we have reached," said General Staff spokesman Andriy Kovalyov. The Moscow-appointed governor for the occupied part of the Zaporizhia region, Yevgeny Balitsky, admitted that the Russians were withdrawing from the village of Robotyne. According to their own statements, the Ukrainian army continued to attack south of the embattled town of Bakhmut.
Killed in Russian attacks on Kiev and Odessa
According to official information, one person was killed in Russian attacks with drones and rockets on Kiev and the Odessa region in southern Ukraine on Wednesday night. "An employee at a farm was seriously injured and died in hospital," said Odessa's military governor, Oleh Kiper. In Kiev, however, the attack was largely mild.
According to the Ukrainian Air Force, a total of 23 of the 33 flying objects were shot down. These include all seven airborne cruise missiles and a converted S-300 anti-aircraft missile, which Russia has also been using to shell cities for months. Of the 25 drones launched, 15 were intercepted.
Ukrainian parliament confirms new defense minister
The Ukrainian parliament has confirmed the appointment of the new Defense Minister Rustem Umyerov. 338 MPs voted for the resolution, with 226 votes required, local media reported. Predecessor Olexij Reznikov was fired on Tuesday. Umyerov previously held the post of head of the State Assets Fund. With the change of ministers, the important ministry was filled for the first time since the Russian invasion over 18 months ago.
London: Curriculum aims to indoctrinate Russian students with war
According to Great Britain, Russian students should be specifically prepared for military service at school. "The new curriculum serves three purposes: to indoctrinate students with the Kremlin's rationale for 'special military operations', to inculcate students with a warlike mindset and to shorten training times for (...) operations," the British Ministry of Defense said today with.
The Russian private army Wagner also wants to declare London a terrorist organization and ban it, the Interior Ministry said. This makes membership in the mercenary group a punishable offense and their assets can be confiscated.