Kramatorsk: Dozens killed in Russian attack on train station packed with civilians fleeing eastern Ukraine | International
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A Russian attack on the Kramatorsk train station in eastern Ukraine has killed at least 39 people and injured 87 as hundreds of civilians tried to move to safer parts of the country, the state railway company said. This company has indicated that two projectiles have hit the station in this city. Kramatorsk, with a population of around 165,000, located north of the Donetsk region in Donbas, has remained under the control of kyiv despite attempts to conquer it by pro-Russian separatist rebels since the 2014 uprising. “It is an evil without limits ”, the Ukrainian president, Volodímir Zelenski, has denounced about the attack. The Kremlin, which since March 25 has placed the conquest of Donbas as a priority in its military strategy, has denied responsibility for the attack.
Kramatorsk is located just twenty kilometers from Sloviansk, a key point in the military corridor that Moscow wants to establish from Kharkov to Donbas. Local authorities in the area have in recent days urged civilians to leave while it is possible and safe. In front of the Kramatorsk station, according to the photographs and videos received from the press displaced to the area and from users of social networks, several charred cars and the remains of a missile were seen. The place was littered with abandoned suitcases, broken glass and debris. The interior of the station was covered in blood.
Zelensky has expressed his condemnation of the attack through his Telegram profile. “They are cynically destroying the civilian population,” said the Ukrainian president. “If it is not punished, they will never stop.” Zelenski has also pointed out, in a video appearance before the Finnish Parliament, that there was no Ukrainian military presence at the railway station hit by the projectiles. The mayor of Kramatorsk, Oleksander Honcharenko, has estimated that around 4,000 people, mainly older people, women and children, were waiting at the station for the arrival of the trains.
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The brutal attack against the civilian population coincides with the visit made to the Ukrainian capital, kyiv, by the High Representative for Foreign Policy of the EU, Josep Borrell, and the President of the Commission, Ursula von der Leyen. Borrell has “strongly” condemned the launch of missiles against the Kramatorsk station and has stated that it is a “new attempt to close the escape routes for those fleeing an unjustified war, causing human suffering”.
The massacre occurs when the Ukrainian authorities are still trying to count the civilians killed after the passage and withdrawal of Russian troops in towns north of the capital, such as Bucha, already a symbol of the barbarism of the invasion ordered by Vladimir Putin, but also Irpin or Borodianka.
offensive in the east
Three trains carrying evacuees were precisely blocked in the Donetsk region on Thursday after another airstrike. The NGO Doctors Without Borders had launched a line to move civilians in need of health care from Kramatorsk to Lviv, in the west of the country. “We were there yesterday and saw hundreds of people crowding the station, trying to leave,” Christopher Stokes, Emergencies Coordinator for this organization, said on Twitter.
“Hospitals had been urgently calling us to evacuate their patients by train. Most came from #Sievierodonestk and other cities of #Luhansk. We arrived just in time with this train. We have great doubts about whether we will be able to evacuate more people again.”
— MSF Press (@MSF_Prensa) April 8, 2022
According to information from MSF, most of those transferred through its medicalized train came from Sievierodonestk and other cities of Lugansk, in the Donbas region. Another of the organizations present in Kramatorsk is World Central Kitchen, founded by the Spanish chef José Andrés. His chief executive was near the station when the attack took place. According to what he has declared in a conversation with the BBC, between 5 and 10 explosions were heard. “One of our guys in the warehouse [de alimentos]”; Mook has stated, “he said that he had seen the Ukrainian air defenses intercept one of the rockets. They were missiles.”
Russian forces have denied responsibility for the bombing of civilians waiting at the station, calling the reports “provocations.” The Kremlin has denied targeting civilians since it began its invasion of Ukraine on February 24. In this same sense, the pro-Russian militias of Donetsk have accused kyiv of the attack. “The Ukrainian army has attacked Kramatorsk with rockets,” according to the militias’ territorial defense office, quoted by the Russian Interfax agency.
According to the separatists, the attack was carried out with Tochka-U tactical missiles, the fragments of which fell in the vicinity of the train station. Several Russian pro-government sources have stated on Telegram that the Russian military does not have Tochka-U missiles at its service. In the remains of one of those missiles found next to the Kramatorsk station, the phrase written in Russian “for our children” could be read.
Both Ukraine and Western intelligence services argue that Russian forces have been regrouping to launch a new offensive in the east, and that Moscow plans to seize as much territory as it can in the Donbas region, which it already partially controls.
On Thursday, Washington confirmed the complete withdrawal of Russian forces from the area north of kyiv. The deployment of Kremlin troops has reportedly moved to the borders of Belarus and Russia’s western fringe.
According to the latest war report issued by the High General Staff of the Ukrainian Army, Moscow is still preparing for an offensive in eastern Ukraine. “The main efforts of the Russian invaders continue to focus on the capture of Mariupol, the offensive in the area of the city of Izium [situada en el río Donets, en la región de Járkov] and towards the Donetsk area”, the Ukrainian military command has pointed out. Izium is located about 70 kilometers north of Kramatorsk.
Another angle of the Tochka-U missile used in today’s railway station attack, with the words “For the (our) Children” written on the side. These are guided missiles, it’s hard to see that this wasn’t a deliberate attack on a known evacuation site. pic.twitter.com/K22FO0BGu8
— Eliot Higgins (@EliotHiggins) April 8, 2022
The Kremlin spokesman, Dmitri Peskov, also stated this Friday that the “special operation”, as Moscow calls the invasion of Ukraine, could end in the near future since its objectives were being achieved and work was being done by both troops and by Russian peace negotiators.
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