More than 30 people were killed and more than 100 injured in a Russian missile attack on a train station in eastern Ukraine on Friday as civilians tried to evacuate to safer parts of the country, the state railway company said.
Two Russian missiles are said to have hit a station in the town of Kramatorsk, which is used for evacuating civilians from areas bombed by Russian forces.
“Two rockets hit the Kramatorsk train station,” Ukrainian Railways said in a statement.
She later added: “According to operational data, more than 30 people were killed and more than 100 injured in the rocket attack on the Kramatorsk train station.”
Reuters could not verify the information. Russia did not immediately comment on the reports of the attack and the number of casualties. Moscow has denied attacking civilians since invading Ukraine on February 24.
Three trains carrying evacuees were blocked on Thursday in the same region of Ukraine after an airstrike on the line, according to the head of the Ukrainian Railways. Read the full story
Ukrainian officials say Russian forces have regrouped for a new offensive and that Moscow plans to seize as much territory as possible in the eastern part of Ukraine known as Donbass, on the border with Russia.
Local authorities in some areas have urged civilians to leave the country while it is still possible and relatively safe to do so.
Overnight, Russia gave its direst assessment yet of its invasion of Ukraine, describing the “tragedy” of mounting troop losses and the economic impact of sanctions as Ukrainians were evacuated from eastern cities ahead of an expected major offensive.
Russia’s six-week invasion has fled more than 4 million people abroad, killed or injured thousands, reduced cities to rubble and led to sweeping sanctions against its leaders and corporations.
In a symbolic move, the UN General Assembly has suspended Russia from the UN Human Rights Council and expressed “deep concern at the ongoing human rights and humanitarian crisis”. Russia then left the council.
Russia has previously admitted its attack has not progressed as quickly as it would like, but on Thursday Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov lamented the rising death toll.
“We have significant troop losses,” he told Sky News. “This is a great tragedy for us.”
Russia is in its most difficult economic situation in three decades due to unprecedented Western sanctions, Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin said. In another blow, the US Congress stripped it of its “most favored nation” trade status.
Russia said it launched a so-called “military special operation” on February 24 to demilitarize and “denazify” Ukraine. Kyiv and its western allies dismiss this as a false pretext.
Following new restrictions following the killing of civilians in the city of Bucha, widely condemned by the West as a war crime, Ukraine urged allies to stop buying Russian oil and gas amid divisions in Europe and bolster it militarily.
“Ukraine needs weapons with which to win on the battlefield, and this will be the toughest sanction against Russia,” President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in a video late Thursday.
He also said the situation in Borodianka – another town northwest of Kyiv that was recaptured by Russian forces – was “significantly more dire” than in Bucha, without citing any evidence.
Borodianka’s video showed search and rescue teams using heavy equipment to dig through the rubble of a collapsed building. It was feared that hundreds of people were buried.
Russia has denied attacking civilians and says images of dead bodies in Bucha were staged to justify further sanctions against Russia and derail peace talks.
EU ambassadors agreed a fifth package of sanctions against Russia with a coal embargo that includes a 120-day settlement period to give member states time to find alternative suppliers after pressure from Germany to postpone the measure.
Ukraine accused Hungary of undermining EU unity after Budapest said it was willing to pay rubles for Russian gas, a Kremlin demand opposed by most in the West.
On the battlefield, Ukraine says after Russia withdrew from Kiev’s outskirts, Russia was regrouping to try and gain full control of the eastern Donetsk and Luhansk regions, which have been held in part by Russian-backed separatists since 2014.
The besieged southern port of Mariupol, where more than 100,000 people were still trapped, according to the mayor, was also a target.
“Evacuate! The chances of saving yourself and your family from Russian death are dwindling every day,” said Lugansk Governor Serhiy Gaidai.
Authorities in Dnipro, a city in central-eastern Ukraine, also urged women, children and the elderly to leave the country.
British military intelligence said Russian forces were shelling towns to the east and south and had pushed further south from the town of Izium, which is under their control. Reuters could not immediately verify the report.
The two sides have exchanged allegations of abuse, with Moscow launching a criminal probe into allegations by a Russian soldier that he was beaten and threatened with death while being held as a prisoner of war in Ukraine.
Separately, a social media video verified and geolocated by Reuters in an area west of Kyiv appears to show Ukrainian forces shooting and killing a captured and seriously wounded Russian soldier.
NATO members agreed on Thursday to step up support for Ukraine.
Ukraine has received about 25,000 anti-aircraft weapon systems from the United States and its allies, the top US general said, and Washington is evaluating what new support it could send.
In a video address posted on YouTube, Ukraine’s Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov made the case for heavier, more modern weapons while Russia concentrated its forces for a full-scale attack.
Russia has “drawn conclusions and changed tactics” and is now focusing on long-range air strikes, he said.
As a result, Ukraine needs air defense systems, long-range artillery, tanks and anti-ship missiles, Reznikov said.
Zelenskyy’s government says starving Russia’s war machine is the only way to bring it to an agreement in recurring peace talks.
On Thursday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said a draft Kyiv peace deal contained “unacceptable” elements and deviated from previously agreed proposals. Read the full story
Ukrainian negotiator Mykhailo Podolyak told Reuters Lavrov that he was not directly involved in the negotiations and that his comments were “of purely propaganda importance” to divert attention from the Bucha killings.
Prosecutor General of Ukraine Iryna Venediktova said authorities found 650 bodies, including 40 children, in the Kyiv region, which includes Borodianka, Bucha and other towns and villages like Irpin.
Bucha’s mayor said dozens were victims of extrajudicial killings by Russian troops. Reuters could not independently verify these figures.
Reports from at least a dozen residents of an apartment complex in Bucha painted a picture of violence and intimidation by Russian soldiers.
https://www.independent.ie/world-news/europe/more-than-30-evacuees-killed-over-100-wounded-in-russian-rocket-strike-on-east-ukraine-railway-station-41532538.html Volodymyr Zelenskyy says situation in Borodianka is “worse” than Bucha as Ukraine prepares for Russian war offensive