Dozens dead after rocket attack on train station in eastern Ukrainian city

Russian missiles hit a train station in Kramatorsk on Friday, killing “dozens” in the city in Ukraine’s eastern Donbass region as Moscow stepped up its offensive in the east of the country.

“Thousands of people were at the station during the rocket attack as residents of Donetsk province are being evacuated to safer regions of Ukraine,” said Pavlo Kyrylenko, head of Donetsk military-civilian administration according to the current state of martial law in Ukraine.

Referring to the Russian armed forces, he said they “knew well where they were aiming and what they wanted”.

At least 39 people were killed and 87 injured, the regional administration said.

“They wanted to take on as many peaceful people as possible, they wanted to destroy everything Ukrainian,” said Kyrylenko.

Witnesses recall hearing two explosions after the rockets hit the station as people waited to board a train due to depart 30 minutes later.

Ukrzaliznytsia, the Ukrainian railway company, said on its Telegram channel: “This is a deliberate strike against the railway’s passenger infrastructure and the residents of Kramatorsk.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the station was hit by Russian Tochka tactical ballistic missiles. Unconfirmed videos posted by Ukrzaliznytsia on social media showed Ukrainian police walking around dead bodies at the strike site.

“Not having the strength and courage to face us on the battlefield, they cynically destroy the civilian population. This evil knows no bounds,” added Zelenskyy.

Baggage is scattered across a platform after the missile attack
Luggage strewn on a train platform after the rocket attack © Ukrainian Presidential Telegram channel/AP

Charles Michel, President of the European Council, said the “horrific” attack meant more sanctions were needed as a new package of measures was discussed in Brussels to follow a package agreed this week targeting Russian coal exports and dozens of oligarchs aims

“It is terrifying to see Russia attack one of the main stations used by civilians to evacuate the region where Russia is stepping up its attack,” Michel said. “There is a need for action: More sanctions against Russia and more arms for Ukraine are underway from the EU.”

Dmytro Kuleba, Ukraine’s Foreign Minister, said: “The Russians knew that the Kramatorsk train station was full of civilians waiting to be evacuated. Still, they hit it with a ballistic missile, killing at least 30 and injuring at least a hundred people. This was premeditated slaughter. We will bring every war criminal to justice.”

The Russian Defense Ministry first said it used high-precision missiles to attack three Ukrainian train stations in Donbass, which it claimed harbored “weapons and military equipment belonging to the Ukrainian reserves”.

But after the scale of civilian casualties became clear, Russia denied any involvement in the attack, which it said was a “provocation” that “has nothing to do with reality.”

The Defense Ministry said, “Russian forces had no plans to fire on targets in Kramatorsk on April 8.” It claimed that the missiles used in the attack were used exclusively by Ukrainian forces.

Six weeks after Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the invasion of Ukraine, Moscow troops have largely withdrawn from territory north of Kyiv after failing to take the capital, according to Ukrainian and Russian officials. However, they are regrouping and rearming before attempting to advance into the eastern Donbass region, where Kramatorsk is located.

Oleksiy Reznikov, Ukraine’s defense minister, said Russian attacks on civilian targets underscored the need for Kiev’s western allies to provide it with more modern, longer-range weapons.

Speaking to the Financial Times and other news outlets during a visit to Bucha where evidence of widespread atrocities against civilians surfaced this week, Reznikov said: “You can see the atrocities in civilian places. There are no military installations, no military targets [here]. Civil only. The same goes for Bucha, Irpin, Dmytrivka and today you can see it in Kramatorsk.”

Reznikov said Ukraine needs multi-launch missile systems, tanks, armored vehicles, anti-ship missiles and NATO-standard calibers to go on the offensive against Russian forces in the east and south.

“We need more long-range weapons. We can deter them [with anti-tank weapons]. But we have to keep them out,” he said, adding that Kyiv is “changing the philosophy” for the next phase of the war.

Reznikov added that Ukrainian forces need little training to operate anti-ship missiles or US or German tanks.

Friday’s strike in Kramatorsk follows Thursday’s attack on a nearby railway bridge, 35 km from the front lines. This strike hampered efforts to evacuate civilians from eastern Donetsk and Luhansk provinces.

On Thursday, Serhiy Haidai, head of Ukraine’s military administration in Luhansk, said Russian forces would regroup and “try to launch an offensive” within three to four days.

Neither Russian nor Ukrainian military claims can be independently verified. Dozens dead after rocket attack on train station in eastern Ukrainian city

Adam Bradshaw

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