US announces $1 bn to aid Ukraine as Russian strike kills at least 17

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced $1 billion of aid during a surprise visit Wednesday to Ukraine, which suffered a Russian strike that killed at least 17 people at a market.

The attack, which President Volodymyr Zelensky described as deliberate and "heinous", drew international condemnation from the West, including accusations of war crimes.

Projectiles tore through the centre of Kostiantynivka -- a town of nearly 70,000 people in the eastern Donetsk region -- in one of the deadliest strikes in weeks.

"They smashed everything, all the shop windows, everything was strewn around," an eyewitness told AFP.

"Thank God we are alive, of course. But the girls who were selling there, they are all dead," the witness said.

Images distributed by officials showed rescue workers picking through the debris and carrying away some of the 32 people reportedly wounded in the blast, which left vehicles charred and kiosks torn to pieces.

"Anyone in the world who is still dealing with anything Russian simply ignores this reality," said Zelensky.

"Heinous evil. Brazen wickedness. Utter inhumanity."

He later accused Russia of deliberately targeting civilians and said there were no military units "anywhere near" the scene.

The European Union condemned the strike along with the "escalation" of Russian attacks on "civilian objects" that has seen hundreds killed or wounded in recent weeks.

"Intentional attacks against civilians are war crimes," the bloc said in a statement.

Germany's Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock wrote on X, formerly Twitter, that "this Russian war of aggression is an attack on international law, on humanity."

Meanwhile, White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre said the...

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