A tragic missile attack in Ukraine’s northeastern village of Hroza has profoundly impacted “every family,” resulting in the loss of 51 lives during a wake, according to Ukraine’s interior minister.
Among the victims was an eight-year-old boy when a cafe was struck during the wake in the Kharkiv region. Ihor Klymenko, Ukraine’s interior minister, remarked, “From every household there were people present.”
Ukraine’s defense ministry attributed the attack to Russia, emphasizing that there were no military targets in the vicinity. Russia has not issued a direct statement regarding the strike. However, Russia’s state news agency Ria Novosti reported that the Russian military had conducted 20 air and artillery strikes on Ukrainian targets in the Kupyansk district, where Hroza village is located. The report did not specify when these strikes occurred or mention Hroza village.
In the aftermath of the missile attack, Russia launched missile strikes on the city of Kharkiv, as reported by Mayor Ihor Terekhov. He stated that a 10-year-old boy was killed when a residential building was hit, with over 20 others injured. The mayor suspected that Russia employed Iskander ballistic missiles in this recent attack.
The missile strike in Hroza village occurred during the funeral of a Ukrainian soldier, a local resident. His widow, son, and daughter-in-law were among the casualties. The soldier had initially been buried in Dnipro, but his family sought to reinter him in his hometown.
The attendees of the funeral were gathered for a meal when the missile struck the cafe, which also served as a grocery store, according to officials. Preliminary information indicated that an Iskander missile was responsible for the devastating impact.
Maria Avdeeva, a Ukrainian security analyst and journalist, suggested that someone may have informed the Russian military about the wake, as Russian propaganda channels disseminated false information about it being a military gathering rather than a civilian ceremony.
Oleh Syniehubov, the head of Kharkiv region, condemned the attack as one of the region’s “bloodiest crimes,” noting that a significant portion of Hroza village’s population had perished in the single terrorist attack.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky decried the act as beyond the description of a “beastly act,” emphasizing that it would be an insult to beasts.
The attack has garnered international condemnation, with UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak condemning it as an example of the depths to which Russian forces are willing to sink. White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre described the strike as “horrifying” and emphasized the importance of continued international support for Ukraine.
The incident coincides with growing opposition in the US House of Representatives regarding ongoing funding for Ukraine. The Kupyansk district, where Hroza village is located, has been a front-line area in the conflict between Russian and Ukrainian forces since the full-scale invasion launched by Russian President Vladimir Putin in February of the previous year. Kyiv recaptured the district in September 2022 after months of intense fighting.