Monday, March 20, 2023

Missile kills dozens at Ukrainian railway station

by Adam Schreck and Kara Anna

KYIV, Ukraine ( Associated Press) — A missile struck a crowded railway station in eastern Ukraine, an evacuation point for civilians, on Friday, killing dozens, Ukrainian officials warned, saying they had some More evidence of possible war crimes is expected in parts. The country was previously occupied by Russian troops.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said thousands of people were waiting to board trains at the station when the missile struck. Photos taken from the scene showed tarp-covered bodies and rocket remains on the ground with the words “for children” painted in Russian.

The Russian Defense Ministry denied attacking the station in Kramatorsk, a city in the eastern Donetsk region, but Zelensky and other Ukrainian leaders accused Russia’s military of deliberately targeting the spot where only civilians had gathered.

“Inhuman Russians are not changing their ways. Without the strength or courage to stand before us on the battlefield, they are blatantly destroying the civilian population,” the president said on social media. is an evil. And if it is not punished, it will never stop. ,

Donetsk regional governor Pavlo Kirilenko said 39 people were killed and 87 wounded. Ukraine’s prosecutor-general’s office said about 4,000 civilians were in and around the station, most of them women and children, calling on Russia to leave the area before launching a full-scale offensive.

“People just wanted to get away for evacuation,” Prosecutor General Irina Venediktova said while visiting Bucha, a town north of the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv, where journalists and returnees from Ukraine took to the streets after Russian troops withdrew. Dead bodies were discovered in mass graves.

Venediktova spoke as workers pulled corpses from a mass grave near a church during the rain. Black body bags were laid out in rows in the mud. He said there was no Russian among the dead. Most of them were shot. The Prosecutor General’s Office is investigating the deaths and other mass casualties involving civilians as possible war crimes.

After failing to take Ukraine’s capital and withdraw from northern Ukraine, Russia has shifted its focus to the Donbass, a mostly Russian-speaking, industrialized region in eastern Ukraine where Moscow-backed rebels have been fighting Ukrainian forces for eight years. and controlling some areas. The railway station is located in an area controlled by the government.

Ukrainian officials this week warned residents to leave for safer parts of the country as soon as possible, saying they and Russia had agreed to establish multiple evacuation routes to the east.

One analyst said that only Russia would have a reason to attack civilian railway infrastructure in the Donbass, and that Ukraine would not intentionally kill its citizens in a “war of existence”.

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.

Elsewhere in the Donbass, Luhansk governor Serhi Haidai said Russia was concentrating equipment and troops and increasing shelling and bombardment to aid their advance.

“We feel the end of preparations for that enormous success, for the great battle that will take place in the Luhansk and Donetsk regions around us,” he said in a televised address.

In his nightly video address, Zelensky said that horrors comparable to that of Bucha had already surfaced in Borodyanka, another settlement outside the capital.

“And what will happen when the world finds out the whole truth about what the Russian soldiers did in Mariupol?” Zelensky said late Thursday, referring to the besieged southern port, which has seen some of the greatest suffering during Russia’s invasion. “There, on every street, the world saw in Bucha and other cities of the Kyiv region … the same cruelty. The same terrible crimes. ”

The Prosecutor General also expressed concern about the death toll in Borodyanka, where the process of exhuming bodies from shells and collapsed buildings has just begun. Venediktova said 26 bodies were found on Thursday from the ruins of just two buildings.

“We don’t know what’s under these houses,” she said, adding that it could take two weeks to find out.

Inspired by reports of atrocities by Russian forces in the areas around the capital, the NATO nations agreed to increase arms supplies after Ukraine’s foreign minister requested weapons from the Coalition and other sympathetic countries so that the former to help in the face of an expected attack.

Ukraine and many Western leaders have blamed Moscow’s military for the massacre. The weekly magazine Der Spiegel reported that Germany’s foreign intelligence intercepted radio messages discussing civilian killings among Russian soldiers. Russia falsely claimed that the scenes were staged in Buka.

In a rare acknowledgment of the cost of war to Russia, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov admitted to British broadcaster Sky News on Thursday that the country suffered significant military casualties, calling it a “tragedy”.

On Friday he told reporters that his reference to troop losses was based on the most recent Russian Defense Ministry numbers, which reported on March 25 that 1,351 Russian soldiers had been killed in Ukraine. NATO estimates Russian casualties to be several times higher.

In anticipation of intense attacks by Russian forces, hundreds of Ukrainians fled the villages of the Mykolaiv and Kherson regions that were either under attack or occupied.

Marina Morozova and her husband fled to Kherson, the first major city to fall under the Russians.

“They are waiting for a big fight. We saw shells which did not explode. It was terrible,” she said.

Morozova, 69, said only Russian television and radio were available. The Russians provided humanitarian aid, she said, and filmed the distribution. as well

The United Nations estimates that more than 4.3 million people have fled Ukraine since the start of the war and more than 12 million are trapped in the areas of attack.

On Thursday, as Russian forces began shelling his village in the southern Mykolaiv region, 52-year-old Sergei Dubovyenko, accompanied by his wife and mother-in-law, headed north in their little blue Lada, where they sought refuge in a church.

“They started destroying houses and everything” in Pavlo-Marianovka, he said. “Then tanks appeared from the forest. We thought that there would be shelling again in the morning, so I decided to leave.”

Two top EU officials and Slovakia’s prime minister traveled to Kyiv on Friday to shore up EU support for Ukraine. Prime Minister Eduard Hager said he, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell Zelensky and his government brought trade and humanitarian aid proposals.

Hager also announced that his country had donated its Soviet-era S-300 air defense system to Ukraine.

Zelensky named the S-300s while speaking to US lawmakers via video in March, in which he appealed for anti-air systems that would allow Ukraine to “close the skies” to Russian warplanes and missiles. Will give

Western countries have increased sanctions against Russia after reports of atrocities near Kyiv. The European Union and Britain followed suit on Friday, a day after the United States banned the two adult daughters of President Vladimir Putin.

The US Congress voted to suspend normal trade relations with Russia and ban imports of its oil, while the European Union approved a ban on coal imports. Meanwhile, the United Nations General Assembly voted to suspend Russia from the world organization’s leading human rights body.

US President Joe Biden said the UN vote demonstrated how “Putin’s war has made Russia an international pariah.”

“Signs of people being raped, tortured, hanged – in some cases desecrating their bodies – are a disgrace to our common humanity,” Biden said.


Anna reported from Buka, Ukraine. Andrea Rosa in Chernihiv, Ukraine, and Associated Press reporters from around the world contributed to this report.


Follow Associated Press’s coverage of the war

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