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A daytime Russian rocket attack on a busy market has killed at least 17 people, including a child, in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kostyantynivka, said President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
The strikes in the Donetsk region on Wednesday came as US secretary of state Antony Blinken made a surprise visit to Kyiv to discuss the counteroffensive against Russian forces with senior Ukrainian officials.
“Russian terrorists have attacked a regular market, shops, and a pharmacy, killing innocent people,” Zelenskyy said in posts on social media. “Anyone in the world who is still dealing with anything Russian simply ignores this reality.”
Ukraine’s prosecutor-general’s office said another 34 people were wounded in the attack. It added that “20 shops, power lines, an administrative building and the fifth floor of a residential building were damaged”. A subsequent fire destroyed several vehicles and eight commercial facilities.
Later on Wednesday evening, the defence ministry said that rescue efforts had concluded “after a Russian S-300 ballistic missile hit an outdoor market.”
Zelenskyy shared a video captured by a security camera showing several people walking around the busy market before the moment of impact. The explosion from the rocket is seen ripping apart market stalls and spraying shrapnel and debris.
Kostyantynivka is 30km west of Bakhmut, a Russian-occupied city that has mostly been destroyed during more than a year of intense fighting. Kostyantynivka’s proximity to the frontline and a rail and road junction has made it an important logistical hub for Ukrainian forces as well as medical personnel and volunteers.
Zelenskyy has made several visits to the city to meet troops this year.
Ukrainian officials said overnight Russian missile and drone strikes killed at least one person in the Danube river port of Izmail in the southern Odesa region. Ukraine’s air force said that it had intercepted 23 out of 33 missiles and drones, which also targeted Kyiv.
In a post on X, formerly Twitter, Blinken said the intention of his visit was “to reinforce the unwavering US commitment to Ukraine”. The secretary of state, who unveiled a fresh $1bn assistance package, said he discussed the counteroffensive and reconstruction efforts.
“We and other countries are maximising the efforts that we’re making for the immediate challenge of the counteroffensive.” Blinken said, “but also to support you as you engage in the critical work of strengthening your democracy, rebuilding your economy.”
Ukrainian foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba shared a photograph on social media of himself and Blinken touring the Berkovetske cemetery in Kyiv, where they paid tribute to the country’s fallen soldiers.
Blinken embarked on the two-day visit at a time when Kyiv’s allies have started to push back against fears that Ukraine’s counteroffensive is going slower than hoped and that western support is dwindling as the fighting drags on.
To “obsess about how many hundreds of metres Ukraine has achieved today . . . [is] ridiculous when we don’t know the timeline for this war”, said one western official.
Ukrainian forces are making “incremental”, “methodical” and “slower than expected” progress, the official added, but 270,000 Russian troops have been killed or wounded, and Russia’s army is now half the size that it was two years ago.
In addition, the slow pace of Ukraine’s summer campaign means that more western-supplied equipment has been preserved than planned, and the “main task now” is to offer Ukraine more “equipment support” such as repairs, logistics and ammunition.
“We aren’t about to walk away,” another western official added.