According to President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and other top officials in Kyiv, a Russian missile targeted a village cafe and store in eastern Ukraine on Thursday, killing at least 51 civilians in one of the war’s bloodiest attacks in months. 

Zelenskyy, who was in Spain for a conference of 50 European leaders to rally support from Ukraine’s friends, called the strike in Hroza a “demonstrably brutal Russian crime” and a “completely deliberate act of terrorism to Russian missile strike.” 

According to Internal Affairs Minister Ihor Klymenko, who provided the death toll, some 60 people were in the cafe for a wake following a burial. 

A 6-year-old boy was killed, and seven others were injured, according to presidential chief of staff Andrii Yermak and Kharkiv Governor Oleh Syniehubov. 

According to preliminary information from Kyiv, an Iskander missile struck the village. The burning rubble of destroyed structures was looked for by emergency personnel. Prosecutors in Ukraine published images of bloodied bodies. 

Hroza, which had a population of roughly 500 people before the war, is located in Kharkiv’s northeastern district. Russia seized the village and other sections of the region early in the war, only to be regained by Ukraine in September 2022. 

The town is about 30 kilometers (19 miles) west of Kupiansk, a vital military focus for Russia. Zelenskyy had been in the area on Tuesday to meet with troops and assess Western-supplied equipment. 

Zelenskyy was at a European Political Community gathering in Granada, Spain, on Thursday, when he appealed for stronger Western cooperation, saying that “Russian terror must be stopped.” 

“Russia needs this and similar terrorist attacks for one thing: to establish its genocidal aggression as the new global norm,” he stated in a statement broadcast on his Telegram channel. “Now we are talking with European leaders about strengthening our air defense, strengthening our soldiers, giving our country protection from terror. And we will respond to the terrorists.” 

“The key for us, especially before winter, is to strengthen air defense, and there is already a basis for new agreements with partners,” he told the committee created in the aftermath of Russia’s full-fledged invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. 

Last winter, Russia targeted Ukraine’s energy system and other critical infrastructure with a sustained onslaught of missile and drone attacks, causing widespread power outages. Ukraine’s power infrastructure has demonstrated an elevated level of resilience and flexibility, which has helped mitigate the damage, but there are concerns that Russia will resume its strikes on power plants as winter approaches. 

The Granada summit, according to Zelenskyy, will also focus on “joint work for global food security and protection of freedom of navigation” in the Black Sea, where Russia has targeted Ukrainian ports following Moscow’s withdrawal from a United Nations-sponsored grain deal designed to ensure safe grain exports from the invaded country’s ports. 

Earlier Thursday, Russia used drones to attack Ukraine’s southern areas. Ukraine’s air force reported that its air defenses intercepted 24 of 29 Iranian-made drones launched by Russia in the Odesa, Mykolaiv, and Kirovohrad districts. 

Gov. Roman Starovoit of Russia’s Kursk region, which borders Ukraine, said Ukrainian drones struck infrastructure facilities in multiple regions, causing power outages. He also claimed that Ukrainian soldiers fired artillery towards the border town of Rylsk, injuring one citizen and causing damage to many residences. 

Ambassador’s Strong Protest 

Martin Harris, the newly appointed British ambassador to Ukraine, has replied to the Hroza strike. 

“I am horrified to hear of Russia’s barbaric shelling of Hroza village and the deaths of dozens of civilians,” he added. 

“My deepest condolences to all who lost their loved ones. We must defeat this evil.” 

Putin: West is erecting a new Iron Curtain with Russia 

Europe is closing in on Russia behind a new Iron Curtain, warned Vladimir Putin earlier in his annual speech to the Valdai Discussion Club in Sochi. 

The Russian president claims that Western sanctions imposed on Moscow over Ukraine have harmed the European economy while making the US and Asian industries more competitive. 

Putin stressed that Russia was not cutting itself apart from Europe.
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