At least 51 people have been killed in a Russian strike that hit a grocery store near Kupiansk Thursday, Ukrainian Interior Minister Ihor Klymenko said, adding that the latest fatality came after one of the injured people died while receiving treatment.
The death toll may rise as the rubble is still being cleared, according to Dmytro Chubenko, a spokesperson with the Prosecutor’s Office in Kharkiv region.
Shortly after 1 p.m. local time, Russian forces shelled a cafe and shop in the village of Hroza in the Kupiansk district, according to Oleh Syniehubov, head of the Kharkiv region military administration. Hroza is about 40 kilometers (24 miles) from the frontlines near Kupiansk.
The strike appears to be the deadliest against Ukraine’s civilian population since an attack on Kramatorsk railway station early in 2022. It’s unclear what weapon was used. Ukrainian officials have used different terms to describe the attack.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said, who is on a visit to Spain, called the attack “a demonstrably brutal Russian crime — a rocket attack on an ordinary grocery store, a completely deliberate terrorist attack.”
“Russian terror must be stopped. Anyone who helps Russia circumvent sanctions is a criminal. Everyone who still supports Russia is supporting evil. Russia needs this and similar terrorist attacks for one thing only: to make its genocidal aggression the new normal for the whole world,” Zelensky said.
“According to preliminary findings, the facility was hit with an Iskander [missile],” Klymenko said.
Some background: The Iskander is a ballistic missile with a relatively short range that depending on configuration carries a warhead of between 500 and 700 kilograms (about 1100 to 1500 lbs). Russia has extensively used it against Ukraine, causing substantial civilian casualties.
The death toll has been updated to reflect the latest information from authorities.