The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Shelling in eastern Ukraine kills 27, Russian-backed authorities say

A deadly blast hit a market in the city of Donetsk, a Russian-controlled region of eastern Ukraine, on Jan. 21. Local officials blamed the strikes on Ukraine. (Video: Reuters)
2 min

At least 27 people were killed Sunday when shells slammed into a Russian-controlled region of eastern Ukraine, local officials and Russia’s Foreign Ministry said.

Authorities in the city of Donetsk blamed the strikes on Ukraine’s military, saying the shells landed in a busy shopping area in the Tekstilshchik quarter. Twenty-five people were injured in the attack, according to Denis Pushilin, the Moscow-installed head of the separatist Donetsk People’s Republic, or DPR.

In a post on Telegram, Pushilin said 155mm and 152mm artillery rounds were fired at Donetsk from two regions west of the city, near the front line. There was no immediate comment from Kyiv, and The Washington Post could not immediately verify the claims.

Images from the strike’s aftermath showed bodies on the ground and in the snow, some covered with blankets or lying alongside crates of fruit. Parts of an adjacent building were heavily damaged, and the area nearby was blackened by the explosion. Officers from Russia’s Investigative Committee were also shown inspecting the scene and carrying away victims.

In a statement, Russia’s Defense Ministry called the incident a “brutal terrorist attack” and said it was carried out with “weapons supplied by the West.”

Russia’s campaign of heavy airstrikes and shelling has also killed thousands of civilians across Ukraine. Russia invaded the country in 2022 and illegally annexed some regions, including Donetsk, where pro-Moscow separatists have operated under Russian cover for years.

Since the invasion, Ukraine has clawed back some territory from Russian forces, but now the front lines are largely frozen as the conflict settles into a grinding stalemate.

In recent weeks, the two sides have relied on long-range missile attacks, including a massive Russian barrage on Ukrainian cities on Dec. 29. The next day, a combined rocket and missile attack on the Russian city of Belgorod killed at least two dozen people, in an attack authorities also blamed on Ukraine.

On Jan. 2, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Russia had used almost 300 missiles and more than 200 drones in attacks on Ukraine since the bombardment on Dec. 29 — a tactic that could exhaust Kyiv’s air defenses.

On Sunday, Pushilin said the DPR would observe a day of mourning for the victims.

Ilyushina reported from Riga, Latvia.

What to know about Ukraine’s counteroffensive

The latest: The Ukrainian military has launched a long-anticipated counteroffensive against occupying Russian forces, opening a crucial phase in the war aimed at restoring Ukraine’s territorial sovereignty and preserving Western support in its fight against Moscow.

The fight: Ukrainian troops have intensified their attacks on the front line in the southeast region, according to multiple individuals in the country’s armed forces, in a significant push toward Russian-occupied territory.

The front line: The Washington Post has mapped out the 600-mile front line between Ukrainian and Russian forces.

How you can help: Here are ways those in the United States can support the Ukrainian people as well as what people around the world have been donating.

Read our full coverage of the Russia-Ukraine war. Are you on Telegram? Subscribe to our channel for updates and exclusive video.