Kyiv and LONDON – At least 51 people, including a child, were killed in a Russian missile attack on a village in the Kharkiv region of eastern Ukraine on Thursday, officials said.
A six-year-old boy was also killed in the attack on a building housing a cafe and a shop in the village of Groza in Kupiansk District. According to the Kharkiv Regional Prosecutor’s Office, six other people were injured and all of the victims were civilians
A memorial service for a killed Ukrainian soldier was taking place in the café when the rocket hit. Only civilians took part in the event, the regional prosecutor’s office told ABC News.
According to Ukrainian Interior Minister Igor Klymenko, preliminary information suggests that Russian forces used an Iskander missile in the attack.
According to the local government, it is the deadliest attack in the Kharkiv region since the Russian invasion began. It is also one of the deadliest attacks to take place across Ukraine in recent months.
Russian troops launched a full-scale invasion of neighboring Ukraine in February 2022. In June this year, Ukrainian forces launched a counteroffensive to recapture occupied territories.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called Thursday’s attack a “demonstrably brutal Russian crime” and “a completely premeditated act of terrorism.” He called on Western allies to help strengthen Ukraine’s air defenses and said that “Russian terror must be stopped.”
“Russia needs this and similar terrorist attacks for one reason only: to make its genocidal aggression the new norm for the entire world,” Zelensky said on Thursday. “Now we are talking to European leaders in particular about strengthening our air defense, strengthening our soldiers and protecting our country from terror. And we will respond to the terrorists.”
Earlier on Thursday, Zelensky asked more than 40 European leaders gathered in Spain for further support and more weapons to help his country fight Russian aggression.
In an emotional speech to the European Political Community summit in Granada, Zelensky said schoolchildren in Ukraine’s eastern Kharkiv region would have to learn remotely or attend classes underground in metro stations because of airstrikes.
“As long as there is no fully effective air defense system, children cannot go to school,” the Ukrainian president said on Thursday, warning that “there will be many Russian attacks.” [the] Winter.”
Last winter, Russian missiles and drones targeted Ukraine’s energy system and other key infrastructure, causing prolonged power outages across the Eastern European country.
Zelensky confirmed that Spain had agreed to provide air defense capabilities to Ukraine in a new aid package.
The Ukrainian president also expressed confidence that the United States will continue to provide support, despite what he called a “political storm” in Washington, DC, after aid to Ukraine was suspended following a last-minute agreement by American lawmakers Avoiding a government shutdown did not materialize.
“I have faith in America,” he said. “They are strong people with strong institutions and a strong democracy.”
Zelensky warned that one of the scenarios in the conflict is that Russia is considering freezing the war until 2028 to replenish its reserves. He said Russian President Vladimir Putin should not be allowed to expand his military, otherwise Russia could attack beyond Ukraine by 2028.
“Let only Putin’s ambitions be ruined, not our countries, not our cities,” Zelensky said. “Children in every country deserve safety. Everywhere in the country, not just in the subway, not just in underground shelters, but everywhere. We have to make it happen. We have to make sure Ukraine wins.”