Russian airstrike kills 51 at a funeral in Ukraine

Villagers were attending a wake for a local resident when a missile struck at 15:15 local time (13:15 BST).

Ukraine’s defence ministry said there were no military targets in the area – only civilians.

Kharkiv regional head Oleh Synyehubov described the attack as one of the region’s “bloodiest crimes”.

He confirmed that everyone who died were residents of the village, and that today’s attack killed 20% of its population.

“One-fifth of this village has died in a single terrorist attack,” he said on national television.

Ukrainian Interior Minister Ihor Klymenko said every household was affected in the village: “From every family, from every household, there were people present”.

Interfax Ukraine reported that the funeral was for a Ukrainian soldier. His widow, son – also a soldier – and daughter-in-law were among those killed, the outlet quoted local prosecutor Dmytro Chubenko as saying.

The soldier had previously been buried in Dnipro, but his relatives said they wanted to rebury him in his home village.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said the act “couldn’t even be called a beastly act – because it would be an insult to beasts”.

He accused Russia of deliberately targeting the village while people gathered for the memorial service, and said it “was not a blind strike”.

“Who could launch a missile at them? Who? Only absolute evil”, he said.

The Kupyansk district – which the village is part of – has been on the front line of clashes between Russian and Ukrainian armies since Vladimir Putin launched his full scale invasion in February last year.

It was a major supply hub for Russian forces at the start of the war, but Kyiv recaptured it in September 2022 after months of fighting.

The interior minister said an Iskander missile was used in the attack, but the BBC has been unable to independently verify this claim.

Russia bombed the village as Mr Zelensky attended the European leaders’ summit in Granada, Spain.

There, the European Union’s foreign affairs chief, Josep Borrell, warned that political infighting was threatening the US’s ability to fund the Ukrainian military.

A recent budget deal in the US Congress did not include funding for Ukraine.

Mr Borrell said no European countries would be able to make up the gap left by any loss of American support.

“Can Europe fill the gap left by the US? Well, certainly Europe cannot replace the US,” he said.

On Thursday, Mr Zelensky asked European leaders for more air defence missiles and said other countries could thank Ukraine for protecting them from Russian aggression.

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