At least 17 people killed in Russian rocket attack on market in Kostiantynivka; Antony Blinken announces new US aid during Kyiv trip

At least 17 people have been killed, including a child, and another 32 injured after a Russian rocket struck a busy outdoor market in the Ukrainian city of Kostiantynivka, according to Ukrainian officials. Videos of the aftermath of the attack, one of Russia’s deadliest strikes in months, showed fires raging in destroyed buildings and soldiers carrying body bags away.

The Russian attack came as the US secretary of state, Antony Blinken, was in Kyiv for an unannounced two-day visit, his first for a year to the Ukrainian capital. Blinken met his Ukrainian counterpart, Dmytro Kuleba, held discussions with President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and described progress in the Ukrainian counteroffensive as “very, very encouraging”.

The top US diplomat announced new aid for Ukraine totalling more than $1bn during his visit, including Himars missile launch systems, Javelin anti-tank weapons, Abrams tanks and other weapons systems. The Pentagon said it would also send depleted uranium shells for Abrams tanks, a form of ammunition that is controversial.

Romania’s president, Klaus Iohannis, called for an urgent investigation into apparent drone debris discovered on its soil after Russian attacks on neighbouring parts of Ukraine. Romania, a Nato member, had earlier repeatedly rejected claims by Kyiv that Iranian-made Russian drones fell and detonated on Romanian territory during a strike on the Ukrainian port of Izmail on Sunday night.

A Russian-occupation appointed official has acknowledged that Moscow’s forces have abandoned the Ukrainian village of Robotyne, more than a week after Kyiv announced its recapture. “The Russian army abandoned – tactically abandoned – this settlement because staying on a bare surface when there is no way to completely dig in … doesn’t generally make sense. Therefore the Russian army moved off into the hills,” said Yevgeny Balitsky, the top Moscow-installed official in the Zaporizhzhia region.

The situation along the eastern frontline remains difficult and the main task for Ukraine’s troops is to ensure reliable defence and prevent the loss of strongholds, the commander of Ukraine’s ground forces has said. “The enemy does not abandon his plans to reach the borders regions,” said Oleksandr Syrskyi.

Ukraine’s parliament voted to approve the appointment of Rustem Umerov as the new defence minister, a lawmaker said. Umerov is a leading member of the Crimean Tatar community who has represented his country in sensitive negotiations with Russia. He is replacing Oleksii Reznikov, who stepped down at Zelenskiy’s instigation after 22 months in the job.

Vladimir Putin’s “gangster” nuclear threats require Nato to adopt a much more aggressive response, including flying more aircraft with nuclear weapons, the chief of the general staff of the Polish armed forces has said. Gen Rajmund Andrzejczak also said he did not think North Korea would be preparing to sell weapons to Russia without the agreement of China.

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