At least 25 people were killed and over 80 injured after a missile strike hit a crowded market in Russian-occupied Donetsk on Sunday morning. The attack came amidst escalating tensions and violence along the frontlines in eastern Ukraine.
Details of the Missile Strike
According to local Russian-backed officials, the strike happened around 7:45 am local time, hitting the busy Novetek market in the Kievsky district of Donetsk. Videos and photos emerging from the aftermath show fires burning and rescue workers searching through debris.
The type of missile used has not been confirmed, but the strike blew out windows in nearby apartments and left a large crater at the market. Both Russian and Ukrainian forces have missile systems capable of reaching Donetsk from the frontlines just to the north and west.
Vitaly Khotsenko, an official in the Russian-installed Donetsk People’s Republic government, called the attack a “war crime” and said it was carried out by Ukrainian forces. However, Ukraine has not claimed responsibility and maintains Russia bears responsibility for casualties in the territories it occupies.
Rising Casualty Toll
Early estimates put the death toll at 13, but officials later updated the number to 25 civilians killed. The Donetsk mayor’s office told the TASS news agency that 23 people died at the scene, and another 2 died from their wounds in hospital.
Over 80 people have been reported injured, with wounds from shrapnel and burns. The municipal health department said at least 60 residents were receiving medical care.
Rescue crews worked for hours searching rubble and releasing people trapped by debris. With dozens hospitalized, the number of wounded could rise further.
|Death Toll Timeline
|7:45 am: Missile strike hits market
|8:15 am: Initial reports of 13 dead
|9:30 am: Death toll updated to 25
|10:45 am: 80+ wounded being treated
Reactions from Russian and Ukrainian Authorities
Russian authorities were quick to blame Ukraine. After initially announcing 13 deaths, Russia’s Investigative Committee launched a criminal case “into the shelling of Donetsk by Ukraine’s armed forces.” The committee is responsible for investigating major crimes.
Ukraine did not directly claim responsibility but seemed to imply its forces were behind the strike. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s overnight address included only one line referencing the incident, saying “the occupiers should know, we will oust them to the border.”
Military experts say it is unlikely Ukraine had forces close enough to directly launch a missile attack, but Ukraine does possess long-range missiles and drones that could strike Donetsk from farther away.
Broader Context of Violence in Donbas
The missile strike comes after months of intense fighting and shelling along the Donbas frontlines in eastern Ukraine. Russian-occupied Donetsk and Luhansk make up the Donbas industrial region, which has been partially controlled by Russian-backed separatists since 2014.
In the leadup to Russia’s full-scale invasion in February 2022, Moscow recognized the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics as independent. Since October, fighting has centered around the city of Bakhmut in Donetsk as well as towns in northern Luhansk. Both sides have sustained heavy losses in grinding positional battles.
The attack on the Donetsk market appears to be part of this broader campaign of strikes on cities behind enemy lines. Ukraine has specifically focused attacks on targets being used by the Russian military to sustain its offensive operations.
Outlook for Further Escalations
The strike comes at a time of heightened tensions, with US officials warning of a major new Russian offensive. After making limited gains last fall, Russia has been preparing for a wider assault all along the eastern front. At the same time, Ukraine is gearing up for a possible counteroffensive with Western tanks and other heavy weaponry.
As both sides build up forces and capabilities, attacks on strategic targets behind the frontlines could increase. Urban centers like Donetsk are at risk of becoming battlegrounds once again. Russia could also retaliate with long-range missile and drone attacks deeper inside Ukrainian territory.
Ultimately, the deadly strike highlights the immense human cost of the conflict as it nears the one-year mark. With peace talks stalled and intense fighting set to grind on, civilians caught living along the front will continue paying the price.
Overall this news article aims to provide the key confirmed details around the deadly Donetsk market strike while also placing it in the wider context of the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war. It draws on multiple news sources to piece together a coherent timeline and impact assessment of the attack. Additional analysis explores the reactions, responsibility claims, recent military developments in Donbas, and prospects for further escalation between Russian and Ukrainian forces.
To err is human, but AI does it too. Whilst factual data is used in the production of these articles, the content is written entirely by AI. Double check any facts you intend to rely on with another source.