A look at Russia's deadliest missile attacks on Ukraine

By Isaac M October 6, 2023

Since the start of its full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the Russian military has repeatedly used missiles to blast civilian targets across the country, with devastating consequences.

One of the deadliest such attacks happened Thursday when a Russian rocket struck a village cafe and store in the village of Hroza in eastern Ukraine, killing at least 51 civilians.

The Kremlin often claims the missiles are aimed at military assets or blames the strikes on Ukraine. A spokesman for President Vladimir Putin insists Russia does not target civilians.

A look at some of the deadliest strikes:

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MARCH 9, 2022 — An apartment building in Izium in eastern Ukraine was hit in an attack that Human Rights Watch later said killed at least 44 people. Russian forces took control of the city and surrounding area beginning in late March and occupied it for six months. At the time of the strike, HRW said the area was under the control of Ukrainian forces who were trying to keep Russian troops from entering the city.

MARCH 16, 2022 — A Russian airstrike hit a theater in Mariupol, killing hundreds of civilians sheltering in the basement. Ukrainian officials initially put the death toll at 300, but an Associated Press investigation later found evidence that the attack was far deadlier and killed closer to 600 people inside and outside the building. Russia claimed the theater was demolished by Ukrainian forces or served as a Ukrainian military base.

APRIL 8, 2022 — The train station in Kramatorsk in eastern Ukraine was hit by a Russian missile as passengers, mostly women and children, tried to flee the fighting. Sixty-one people were killed and 135 wounded. The remnants of a rocket were painted with the words “For the children” in Russian, implying that children were being avenged by the strike, though the exact reason for the wording was unclear. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said it was a deliberate attack. Russia’s Defense Ministry accused Ukraine of carrying out the strike.

JUNE 27, 2022 — Long-range Russian bombers struck a crowded shopping mall in Ukraine’s central city of Kremenchuk with a supersonic missile, killing more than 20 people. About 1,000 people were inside the building. Zelenskyy called the strike “one of the most daring terrorist attacks in European history.” Russia said the missile was directed at a nearby weapons depot.

JULY 1, 2022 — A Russian airstrike on residential areas killed at least 21 people near the Ukrainian port of Odesa, a day after the withdrawal of Russian forces from an island in the Black Sea. Zelenskyy’s office said warplanes fired three missiles that struck an apartment building and a campsite.

JULY 9, 2022 — Russian rockets smashed into apartment buildings in eastern Ukraine, killing at least 15 people in the town of Chasiv Yar. The buildings were mostly home to people who work in nearby factories. At least six people were dug out of the rubble.

JULY 14, 2022 — Kalibr cruise missiles fired from a Russian ship in the Black Sea killed at least 29 people and wounded more than 100 others in the central Ukrainian city of Vinnytsia. Zelenskyy accused Russia of deliberately targeting civilians in locations with no military value. He said the victims included a 4-year-old girl. Russia said it was attacking a Ukrainian officers’ residence.

SEPT. 30, 2022 — Four Russian missiles targeted a convoy of cars on the outskirts of the southern city of Zaporizhzhia, killing 30 people, including children. Ukrainian officials said the missiles were launched from an S-300 anti-aircraft missile system and hit a column of vehicles sent to ferry people to safety from Russian-occupied territory.

JAN. 14, 2023 — One of the deadliest attacks on civilians took place when a Russian missile hit an apartment building in the southeastern city of Dnipro, killing 45 people, including six children. Ukrainian military officials said at the time that they did not have a system that could take down the type of the supersonic missile that was used, Russia’s Kh-22 missiles.

APRIL 28, 2023 — An apartment block far from the front lines was blasted at night by two long-range cruise missiles in the city of Uman, about 215 kilometers (134 miles) south of Kyiv. At east 21 people were killed, including three children. The Russian Defense Ministry said the missiles were aimed at places where Ukrainian military reserve units were staying before their deployment to the battlefield.

SEPT. 6, 2023 — Sixteen people were killed when a missile struck a busy market in Kostiantynivka in eastern Ukraine, turning it into a fiery, blackened ruin. Zelenskyy said the strike was retribution for Ukrainian advances on the battlefield. A Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said Ukraine fired the missile.

OCT. 5, 2023 — A village cafe and store in eastern Ukraine was hit by a Russian rocket, killing at least 51 civilians in one of the deadliest attacks of the year. Zelenskyy denounced the strike in the village of Hroza as a “demonstrably brutal Russian crime” and “a completely deliberate act of terrorism.” The cafe was hosting a wake following a funeral.

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