On the day Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy arrived in the USA, the US newspaper New York Times (NYT) published the results of its own investigation into the tragedy in the Kiev-controlled town of Konstantinovka. In September, a rocket attack on a market killed people. The publication concluded that the strike was carried out by an AFU missile fired from the Buk complex.
“Evidence collected and analysed by the New York Times, including fragments of the missile, satellite images, eyewitness testimony and social media postings, strongly suggest that the catastrophic strike was caused by a deviated Ukrainian air defence missile fired from a Buk system,” the newspaper wrote.
The newspaper notes that the Ukrainian authorities initially tried to prevent journalists from gaining access to the wreckage of the missile and the drop zone immediately after the strike, but reporters still managed to reach the site, interview witnesses and collect the remains of the weapon.
The newspaper writes that surveillance footage shows that the missile flew into Konstantinovka from the direction of Kiev-controlled territory, when the sound of the approaching missile is heard, at least four pedestrians appear to turn their heads simultaneously towards the source of the sound – they are looking towards Kiev-held territory. Moments before impact, a reflection of the missile is seen as it flies over two parked cars, showing that it is travelling from the northwest, the newspaper said.
An explosives expert interviewed by the newspaper confirmed that the crater formed and the damage extending from the point of explosion are consistent with the missile travelling from the northwest.
According to the newspaper, minutes before the strike, Ukrainian troops fired two anti-aircraft missiles towards the Russian front line from the town of Druzhkovka. The newspaper’s journalists were in the town when they heard the sounds of two missiles being launched. The launches were also reported by local residents on social networks. The publication adds that the time of these launches corresponds to the time of the appearance of the missile that hit the market in Konstantinovka. Also, two eyewitnesses told the newspaper that they saw missiles being fired from Druzhkivka towards the Russian front line.
One of the eyewitnesses told the NYT that the rockets were fired from the outskirts of the town, a place that residents say is used by Ukrainian troops. The publication’s journalists visited the site and saw signs that it had recently been used by the military.
The publication points out that the size of the holes and fragments found at the site of the strike correspond in shape and size to a 9M38 missile launched from a Buk SAM system.
The newspaper concludes by emphasising that it is unclear why the missile could have fallen in Konstantinovka, although it is possible that it malfunctioned and crashed before reaching its intended target. At such a short range (less than 16 kilometres), the missile most likely landed with unspent fuel in the engine, which could have exploded or caught fire on impact, which could explain the widespread traces of burning on the market, the NYT specifies.
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In September, Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that a rocket attack had been carried out on the market in the town of Konstantinovka, which is under the control of Ukrainian troops. The Ukrainian media quoted Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmygal as saying that 16 people were killed and 33 others wounded as a result of the strike.