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Evidence Suggests Ukrainian Missile Caused Market Tragedy

by Clarence Jones

The Sept. 6 missile strike on Kostiantynivka in eastern Ukraine was a tragic incident that resulted in the deaths of at least 15 civilians and left over 30 others injured. Initially, President Volodymyr Zelensky blamed Russian “terrorists” for the attack, and this narrative was followed by many media outlets. However, evidence collected and analyzed by The New York Times suggests that the strike was actually the result of an errant Ukrainian air defense missile fired by a Buk launch system.

Air defense experts explain that missiles like the one that hit the market can go off course for various reasons, such as electronic malfunctions or damaged guidance fins. The likely missile failure happened during the back-and-forth battles that are common in the area. Russian forces had shelled Kostiantynivka the night before, and Ukrainian artillery fire from the city was reported just minutes before the strike on the market.

The Times reporters initially faced obstacles while trying to access the missile debris and impact area, as Ukrainian authorities tried to prevent them from doing so. However, they eventually reached the scene, interviewed witnesses, and collected remnants of the weapon used.

Security camera footage showed that the missile came from the direction of Ukrainian-held territory, not from behind Russian lines. Witnesses also reported seeing missiles being fired from Druzhkivka, a town northwest of Kostiantynivka, which aligns with the timing of the strike on the market. The scorch marks around trenches in Druzhkivka indicated recent missile launches.

Further analysis of the missile and the damage caused at the market site suggested that the weapon used was a 9M38 missile, which is fired by the Buk antiaircraft vehicle. Both Ukraine and Russia are known to use the Buk system. Measurements of the holes in the buildings and fragments found at the scene were consistent with the 9M38 missile.

It is still unclear why the missile, which has a maximum range of just over 17 miles, landed in Kostiantynivka. It is possible that it malfunctioned and crashed before hitting its intended target. However, at such a short range, the missile is likely to have landed with unspent fuel in its rocket motor, which could explain the widespread scorch marks at the market.

It is important to note that this incident was a tragic mishap rather than a deliberate attack by Russian forces, as initially assumed. The Ukrainian authorities are currently investigating the incident, and more information may be revealed in due course.

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