Ukraine has reported a devastating loss of life, with at least 51 people confirmed dead as a result of a Russian strike targeting a grocery store and café situated in the northeastern Kharkiv region.
President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has vehemently condemned what he described as a “demonstrably brutal Russian crime,” characterizing it as nothing less than a “rocket attack on an ordinary grocery store.”
Zelenskyy, while in Spain with European officials seeking further support for his beleaguered nation, denounced the strike as a “terrorist attack” and pledged a “powerful” response to this act of aggression.
Ukraine’s Internal Affairs Minister, Ihor Klymenko, confirmed the tragic toll, revealing that 51 individuals had lost their lives in the aftermath of the strike. He noted that the building, which was struck by a Russian rocket or missile, was occupied by approximately 60 people at the time of the devastating incident.
Chilling images shared online by Zelenskyy’s office showcase the aftermath of the tragedy, with emergency responders sifting through a massive heap of crushed concrete and twisted metal at the scene. Heartbreaking scenes of victims’ bodies being recovered from the rubble only underscore the magnitude of the disaster.
Expressing condolences to the grieving families, President Zelenskyy emphasized the urgency of halting “Russian terror” and branded anyone assisting Russia in circumventing sanctions as a “criminal.”
Oleh Synehubov, the governor of the Kharkiv region, disclosed that the building targeted in the strike housed a café and shop in the village of Hroza, located within Kharkiv’s Kupyansk district. The missile or shells struck their mark around 1:15 p.m. local time, during a busy period for the business. Tragically, among the victims was a 6-year-old boy. It’s worth noting that the village, which had a pre-war population of around 500 people, has witnessed a significant exodus over the past year due to the ongoing conflict.
President Zelenskyy remains resolute in his commitment to respond decisively to such acts of terror, asserting that Ukraine will respond “absolutely fairly and powerfully.”
The nearby city of Kupyansk, a vital rail hub in northeast Ukraine, has endured significant devastation during the protracted 20-month-long war. With more than 80% of its residents having already fled as of April, the scars of Russia’s relentless shelling are evident in the pockmarked roads and apartment buildings.
Mayor Andriy Besedin of Kupyansk declared, “Neither Kupyansk nor the towns around Kupyansk will ever be occupied by Russia again.” He affirmed their determination to resist any incursions.
Since April, the conflict has largely settled into a stalemate along the extensive 600-mile front line stretching across eastern Ukraine, from the northern to the southern borders.