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The New York Times reported on Sept. 18 that the Sept. 6 missile strike on a market in Donetsk Oblast's city of Kostiantynivka could have resulted from a Ukrainian malfunctioning air defense missile fired during battles nearby.
Ukraine's Security Service (SBU) and Air Force told the Ukrainian media outlet Suspilne they were still investigating the attack. Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to the Head of the Presidential Office, said that "society will definitely get an answer on what exactly happened in Kostiantynivka."
The NYT said they had reached this conclusion after collecting and analyzing evidence, including missile fragments, satellite imagery, witness accounts, and social media posts.
According to the media outlet, Ukrainian forces might have fired a 9M38 missile using the Buk air defense system from the outskirts of nearby Druzhkivka in the direction of the Russian front line, with the rocket possibly falling short of its target and landing in Kostiantynivka.
Air defense experts told NYT that a 9M38 missile can go off course for various reasons, including malfunctioning electronics and a damaged or sheared launch ring.
Ukrainian authorities have reported that Russia hit the market with an S-300 missile, which the SBU said is evidenced by identified missile fragments. Security services also told Suspline they were examining other materials pointing to Russia's involvement in the attack.
The NYT wrote, however, that they were able to collect remains of the missile that struck Kostiantynivka, alleging that its warhead was different from an S-300 one.
Commenting on the NYT report, Podolyak said such articles "cause the growth of conspiracy theories, and therefore will require additional legal evaluation by investigative bodies." He emphasized that Ukraine's law enforcement agencies investigate all attacks conducted during Russia's war by default.
"In the meantime, we should not forget: it was Russia that started the invasion of Ukraine, and Russia is responsible for bringing war to our country. And it is Russia that regularly inflicts massive missile, bomb, and drone strikes on civilian infrastructure and the civilian population," added Podolyak.
"Ukraine, on the other hand, conducts exclusively defensive actions, defends itself and its territories."