Strike on Ukraine market town that killed 16 caused by ‘errant Kyiv missile’

A missile attack in eastern Ukraine that killed at least 16 people, including one 18-year-old boy, may have been caused by an “errant Ukrainian” rocket, the New York Times has reported.

The September 6 attack was one of the deadliest in months on a civilian area in Ukraine and Kyiv quickly pinned the strike on Russian forces.

But the NYT’s investigation, which analysed a video of the moment the missile hit, as well carrying out extensive on-the-ground research, concluded that the Ukrainian claims may have been false.

Russian state media, as well as Kremlin officials, seized on the story as evidence of Ukrainian war crimes. Opposition Russians later accused their counterparts of Orwellian “doublethink”, noting that they had been branding much of the NYT’s reporting as “fake news” for years.

Throughout the war, Russian officials have repeatedly claimed, without offering evidence, that strikes on apartment buildings and civilian infrastructure in Ukraine came from the Ukrainian forces.

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The NYT investigation cited evidence — including missile fragments, satellite imagery and witnesses – to suggest that the missile that caused the explosion was a Ukrainian air defence missile fired by a Buk launch system as opposed to a S-300 rocket, which Kyiv originally claimed.

The US publication alleged that the missile was fired from Druzhkivka, 10 miles northwest of Kostiantynivka, in Ukrainian-held territory.

Their claims were backed up with witness accounts, analysis of the direction of the missile that hit Kostiantynivka, as well as photos from what appears to be the launch site.

Ukraine’s SBU state security service rejected the findings, saying that an ongoing investigation so far showed the attack was carried out by Russia.

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Missile fragments found at the scene were identified as a S-300 surface-to-air missile, it said, counter to claims made by the NYT that the fragments were indicative of a missile from a Buk system.

On Tuesday, Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova pointed to the NYT investigation by way of claiming that Ukraine should be “demilitarised”.

“Even if the action wasn’t premeditated, it’s obvious to everyone that a complete demilitarisation of the Kyiv regime isn’t merely a demand but an acute necessity,” Zakharova wrote on Telegram.

Speaking at the United Nations after the attack, Russia’s UN Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia accused the West of covering up what he described as a “horrible crime and a terrible provocation by Ukraine”.

On the day of the incident, President Volodymyr Zelensky called it a “deliberate” Russian strike at a civilian area.

The White House also blamed Russia for the attack, one of the deadliest bombardments of civilians in the 18-month-old war.

Western media was quick to follow suit, including this publication, which wrote at the time that a “Russian shell” was responsible for the deaths.

Ukrainian authorities initially prevented NYT journalists from visiting the scene during their investigation but later relented. They were likely aware of what the reports would find.

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