Ukrainian officials bitterly condemned a Russian attack Thursday that blew apart a café where a wake was being held, killing at least 51 people, including a child.
The Associated Press reported that after the attack in the eastern village of Hroza, “body parts were strewn across a nearby children’s playground that was severely damaged by the strike.”
Kharkiv Gov. Oleh Syniehubov told the BBC, “One-fifth of this village has died in a single terrorist attack.”
“Today, Russian terrorists launched an attack that one can’t even call ‘beastly,’” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Thursday night in his daily address, “because it would be an insult to beasts.”
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak told the BBC that the attack on Hroza “demonstrated the depths of depravity Russian forces are willing to sink to.”
The wake was being held for a soldier from Hroza who died last year. He was being reburied in his hometown.
Officials posted footage on the Telegram messaging app of rescue workers clambering through smoldering rubble. Bodies lay alongside slabs of concrete and twisted metal.
Meanwhile, Ukraine’s military said Thursday it destroyed 24 of 29 drones launched by Russian forces directed at the Odesa, Mykolaiv and Kirohovrad regions.
The Hroza attack occurred as Zelenskyy was in Spain lobbying Western allies at a summit of about 50 European leaders for more military assistance to thwart Russia’s invasion.
Zelenskyy said in his daily address that there are now “clear agreements” with his European allies for more air defense systems which are “crucial as we approach winter.” He also said there are deals for more artillery and more long-range weapons.
Russia targeted Ukraine’s energy infrastructure last winter, leading to widespread power outages, effectively an attempt to demoralize Ukrainians during the coldest and darkest months of the year. Over time, the infrastructure was restored, but now Ukraine fears more infrastructure attacks are in the offing as winter approaches.
“The main challenge that we have is to save unity in Europe,” Zelenskyy told reporters as he arrived for talks in Granada.
Zelenskyy said it is important for Ukraine to have a “defending shield for the winter” with Russia expected to carry out many attacks with missiles and Iranian drones.
He also cited what he said was 100% support from U.S. President Joe Biden as well as bipartisan support from the U.S. Congress, days after a short-term funding deal that excluded additional aid for Ukraine.
Biden called key Western allies on Tuesday to reassure them of continued American military support for Ukraine after a group of congressional Republicans forced the exclusion of immediate new funding for Kyiv.
The White House said Biden spoke with the leaders of Canada, Germany, Italy, Japan, Poland, Romania, Britain, and of the European Union and NATO, along with the foreign minister of France.
Some information for this story came from The Associated Press, Agence France-Presse and Reuters.