In the small north-eastern village of Hroza in Ukraine, every family mourns the devastating loss that followed a lethal missile attack. Interior Minister Ihor Klymenko confirmed the grim reality that penetrated the quiet village life last Thursday, resulting in the tragic death of 52 villagers.
Among the sorrowful dead was an eight-year-old boy, whose life was abruptly silenced as a missile laid siege on a local cafe during a wake. “Every household had representatives present,” affirmed a sorrowful Klymenko.
The Ukrainian defence ministry pointed fingers towards Russia, insisting that the village lacked any military targets. Russia, however, refrained from commenting directly, while the Russian state news agency Ria Novosti chronicled an account of the Russian military exerting 20 air and artillery strikes on Ukrainian targets in Kupyansk district, the location housing Hroza. They did not disclose the timing of these strikes nor acknowledged Hroza’s direct involvement.
A grim dawn welcomed the city of Kharkiv the following day, with Mayor Ihor Terekhov reporting further missile strikes. Tragically, a residential building was struck, ending the life of a 10-year-old boy and leaving more than 20 others injured. Terekhov suggested the use of Iskander ballistic missiles in this attack.
By the day’s end, rescue efforts uncovered the corpse of an elderly woman – the grandmother of the deceased boy, revealed Kharkiv regional head Oleh Syniehubov.
The village of Hroza was still reeling from the funeral of a local soldier that had taken place days prior, a ceremony disrupted by the missile’s fatal arrival. The devastation seeped into every home, with local prosecutor Dmytro Chubenko stating that among the dead were the soldier’s widow, their son and daughter-in-law.
The villagers, still mourning, were seated for a meal when the missile targeted the cafe-cum-grocery store, recounted a grave Klymenko. Hroza, home to 330 residents before this atrocity, had “every household present”, with everyone represented at the wake. The minister suggested that a likely Iskander missile caused the destruction.
Terming the assault one of the region’s cruelest crimes, Syniehubov lamented, “One fifth of this village perished in a single horrific attack”. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky expressed his revulsion, condemning the act as one that “insulted beasts”. Responding to the trauma, a three-day mourning period was declared in the Kharkiv region.
The missile attack drew international condemnation. UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak referred to it as a heinous act that “exposed the depths of inhumanity Russian forces were willing to sink to”. White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre also shared her sentiments, branding the strike “horrifying” and a testament to why Ukraine needs ongoing international support.
This haunting development takes place amid growing opposition in the US House of Representatives against continued funding for Ukraine. The Kupyansk district, where Hroza is located, has been a combat zone since Russian President Vladimir Putin instigated a full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February last year. Once a significant supply hub for Russian forces, the district was reclaimed by Kyiv in September 2022 after prolonged conflict.