Missile strike in Kostiantynivk
© AFPMissile strike in Kostiantynivk
The New York Times has published a report suggesting a deadly bombing at an outdoor market in eastern Ukraine earlier this month was likely caused by an errant missile fired by Ukraine's armed forces.

Kyiv rejected the September 19 report by the U.S. daily, again stating that the September 6 blast in Kostyantynivka that killed at least 15 people and injured 30 more was caused by a Russian missile.

The report cites "evidence collected and analyzed by The New York Times, including missile fragments, satellite imagery, witness accounts and social media posts, strongly suggests the catastrophic strike was the result of an errant Ukrainian air defense missile fired by a Buk launch system."

It shares security footage appearing to show a missile flying at the market "from the direction of Ukrainian-held territory, not from behind Russian lines," and images of scarring on the ground near the impact.

Asked about the report, the press service of the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) said that according to an investigation still under way, the Russians were responsible for the strike, which it said had involved a Russian S-300 missile system.

"This is evidenced, in particular, by the identified missile fragments recovered at the scene of the tragedy," it said, adding that the investigation was also examining other materials that pointed to Russian involvement in the shelling.

Mykhaylo Podolyak, a senior aide to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, said the circumstances were being studied by law enforcement agencies and that "the legal truth will be established."

Zelenskiy initially blamed Russian forces for the "attack by Russian terrorists" in Kostyantynivka, adding, "This Russian evil must be defeated as soon as possible."

Moscow, which has denied targeting civilian targets despite months of bombardments and drone attacks on Ukrainian population centers, quickly seized on The New York Times' findings to suggest they supported Kremlin talking points since the unprovoked full-scale invasion began 18 months ago.

"Even if it was done unintentionally, it is obvious to everyone: the complete demilitarization of the Kyiv regime is not just a requirement, but a vital necessity," Maria Zakharova, spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, said on September 19.

Without providing evidence, she alleged that Ukraine had fired a 9M38 missile from a Buk surface-to-air missile system that hit the market.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy initially blamed Russian forces for the "attack by Russian terrorists" in Kostyantynivka, adding, "This Russian evil must be defeated as soon as possible."

The NYT report quoted experts saying that air-defense missiles can go off-course for many reasons that include possible electronic malfunction or damage to guidance systems.