The missile attack on Kostyantiniivka in eastern Ukraine on September 6 resulted in the deaths of at least 15 civilians and injuries to over 30 others. The impact of the missiles caused severe damage to the market, with metal fragments crashing through windows and walls, leaving some victims unrecognizable. President Volodymyr Zelenskiy quickly blamed the attack on Russian “terrorists,” a claim that was widely reported in the media. However, evidence collected by The New York Times suggests that this devastating attack was actually a tragic accident caused by a Ukrainian air defense missile being accidentally fired from the Buk launch system.
According to air defense experts, missiles can veer off course due to various reasons, such as electronic failure or damage to the guidance system during launch. The missile failure seems to have occurred at the rear, leading to the unintended attack on Kostyantiniivka. It’s worth noting that there were frequent battles happening in the area at the time, with Russian troops bombarding the city the night before and Ukrainian military shelling reported minutes before the attack on the market. Ukrainian authorities initially tried to block Times reporters from accessing the missile debris and impact area but eventually allowed them to investigate.
Security camera footage analyzed by the Times suggested that the missile came from the direction of occupied Ukrainian territory, rather than from behind Russian military lines as initially claimed. The missile’s reflection can be seen passing over two parked cars, indicating a northwest route. The resulting crater and damage are consistent with this trajectory, according to experts. Additionally, there is evidence that Ukrainian forces fired two missiles shortly before the attack from the town of Drushkivka, 16 miles northwest of Kostyantiniivka. Witnesses reported seeing missiles being fired from Drushkivka towards Russian lines around the time of the attack.
Satellite images also showed new scorch marks around a trench near the attack site, suggesting that the site was used for missile launches. Ukrainian authorities initially attributed the attack to the Russian military using a missile fired from the S-300 air defense system. However, the warhead of the missile that exploded in Kostyantiniivka was different from the one used by the S-300. The damage at the market site is consistent with the 9M38 missile fired from a mobile Buk anti-aircraft vehicle, a weapon used by both Ukraine and Russia.
The reasons for the missile hitting Kostyantiniivka instead of its intended target remain unclear. It is possible that the missile malfunctioned and crashed before reaching its destination. At such a short range, with less than ten miles, the missile likely still had unused fuel that could have caused additional damage upon impact. Further investigation is needed to fully understand the incident.
In conclusion, the evidence strongly suggests that the missile attack on Kostyantiniivka was an accidental tragedy caused by a Ukrainian missile being fired from the Buk launch system. This contradicts initial claims that Russian “terrorists” were responsible for the attack. The incident highlights the ongoing conflict in Ukraine and the dangers faced by civilians caught in the crossfire.