by Adam Schreck and Kara Anna
KYIV, Ukraine ( Associated Press) — A missile struck a train station in eastern Ukraine where thousands had gathered on Friday, killing at least 52 people and wounding dozens more in an attack on a crowd of mostly women and children. who were trying to flee a new, emerging Russian invasion. , Ukrainian officials said.
The attack, condemned by some as another war crime in the 6-week-old conflict, came after workers were traced from a mass grave in Bucha, a city near Ukraine’s capital, where dozens of murders followed a Russian pullout. has been documented.
Photos from the station in Kramatorsk showed the dead covered with tarps, and the remains of rockets painted with the words “for children”, which in Russian means children were being avenged by the strike, though The exact reason was not clear. Ukraine’s prosecutor-general’s office said about 4,000 civilians were in and around the station, calling for them to leave before fighting intensified in the Donbass region, Ukraine’s prosecutor-general’s office said.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who says he expects a tough global response, and other leaders accused Russia’s military of deliberately attacking the station. Russia, in turn, blames Ukraine for not using the kind of missile that hits the station – a controversy experts dismissed.
Zelensky told Ukrainians in his nightly video address on Friday that “every minute an effort will be made to establish who did what, who ordered what, where the missile came from, who carried it, who gave the command and so on.” How was the strike agreed?
Donetsk regional governor Pavlo Kirilenko said in the Donbass that 52 people, including five children, were killed and dozens more were injured.
“Many people are in critical condition, with no arms or legs,” said Kramatorsk Mayor Oleksandr Goncharenko, adding that the local hospital was struggling to treat everyone.
British Defense Minister Ben Wallace called the attack a war crime and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called it “completely unacceptable”.
“There are almost no words for it,” Ursula von der Leyen, the chair of the EU Commission in Ukraine, told reporters. “Cynical behavior (by Russia) is now almost no benchmark.”
Ukrainian authorities and Western officials have repeatedly accused the Russian military of atrocities in the war that began with the February 24 offensive. More than 4 million Ukrainians have fled the country, and millions more have been displaced. Some of the most gruesome evidence has been found in towns around Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, from where Russian President Vladimir Putin’s troops pulled back in recent days.
In Buka, Mayor Anatoly Fedoruk has said investigators found at least three sites of mass shootings of civilians and were still finding bodies in yards, parks and city squares – 90% of whom had been shot.
Russia falsely claimed that the scenes were staged in Buka.
On Friday, activists pulled corpses from a mass grave near a church under a rain of spit, laying bags of black bodies in rows in the mud. According to a statement from the Office of Prosecutor-General Irina Venediktova, about 67 people were buried in the grave.
“Like the massacre at Bucha, like many other Russian war crimes, the missile attack on Kramatorsk should be one of the charges in the tribunal,” Zelensky said.
He explained on that topic in an excerpted interview with CBS’s “60 Minutes” that aired Friday, citing communications intercepted by the Ukrainian Security Service.
“There (Russian) soldiers are talking to their parents about what they stole and who they abducted. There are recordings of (Russian) prisoners of war who have admitted to killing people,” he said. “There are pilots in the prison who had maps with civilian targets for making bombs. The remains of the dead are also being investigated.”
Zelensky’s comments echo Der Spiegel’s report that said Germany’s foreign intelligence had intercepted Russian military radio traffic in which soldiers may have discussed civilian killings in Buka. The weekly also reported that recordings indicated that the Wagner group of Russian mercenaries was involved in the atrocities there.
German government officials would not confirm or deny the report, but two former German ministers filed a war crimes complaint on Thursday. Russia has denied that its military was involved in war crimes.
After failing to meet strong resistance to Kyiv, the Russian military has now turned its eyes to the Donbass, a mostly Russian-speaking, industrialized region where Moscow-backed rebels have been fighting Ukrainian forces for eight years, and some areas have been destroyed. control.
A senior US defense official said Friday that the Pentagon believes some of the retreating units were so badly damaged that they were “for all intents and purposes exhausted.” The official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal military assessments.
The official said the US believes Russia has lost between 15% and 20% of its total combat power since the war began. With some combat units heading back to Russia to re-supply, Moscow has added thousands of troops around Ukraine’s second largest city, Kharkiv, he said.
The train station is in Ukrainian government-controlled territory in the Hitt Donbass, but Russia’s Defense Ministry accused Ukraine of carrying out the attack. So did the region’s Moscow-backed separatists, who work closely with Russian regular troops.
Western experts refuted Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov’s claim that the Russian military “does not use” that type of missile, saying Russia has used it during the war. One analyst said only Russia would have reason to target railway infrastructure in the Donbass.
Justin Bronk, a research fellow at the Royal United Services Institute, said: “The Ukrainian military is desperately trying to strengthen units in the area … and railway stations in Ukrainian-occupied territory are vital for the movement of equipment and people.” London.
Bronk pointed to other occasions when Russian officials tried to deflect blame by claiming that their military no longer used an outdated weapon “to muddy the waters and try and create suspicion.” He suggested that Russia specifically chose the missile type because Ukraine has it too.
A Western official, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence, also said that Russia’s military used the missile – and given the location and impact of the strike, it was “likely” Russia’s .
Ukrainian officials almost daily request Western powers to send more weapons and punish Russia for sanctions and ousting Russian banks from the global financial system.
NATO nations agreed on Thursday to increase supplies of weapons, and Slovakian Prime Minister Eduard Hager announced on a visit to Ukraine on Friday that his country had donated a Soviet-era S-300 air defense system to Ukraine. Zelensky had appealed for S-300s to help the country “close the skies” for Russia’s warplanes and missiles.
American and Slovak officials said the US would then deploy the Patriot missile system in Slovakia.
After meeting with Zelensky on Friday, during which he urged the EU to impose a complete ban on Russian oil and gas, von der Leyen gave him a questionnaire that is the first step in applying for EU membership. She said the process of completing the questionnaire could take just a few weeks — an unusually rapid turnaround; Zelensky quipped in English that he would get an answer in a week.
Elsewhere, in anticipation of intensified attacks by Russian forces, hundreds of Ukrainians fled the villages that were either under fire or occupied in the southern regions of Mykolaiv and Kherson.
In Kharkiv, northeast, Lidia Meziritska stood in the rubble of her home after overnight missile attacks, turning it into rubble.
“Russian world,” he says, “he said, mocking Putin’s nationalist justification for invading Ukraine. “People, children, old people, women are dying. I don’t have a machine gun. I’ll definitely go (fight), regardless of age.”
Anna reported from Buka, Ukraine. Robert Burns in Washington, Jill Lawless and Danica Kirka in London, and Associated Press reporters from around the world contributed to this report.
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