War in Ukraine, Day 44 | Strike on Donbass train station kills at least 50

(Kramatorsk) At least 50 people, including five children, were killed in a missile strike Friday on Kramatorsk train station, where hundreds of civilians were thronging to flee eastern Ukraine targeted by Russian forces, an act “inhuman” denounced by President Volodymyr Zelensky, but for which Moscow denies all responsibility.

Posted at 6:12 a.m.
Updated at 11:44 a.m.

Hervé BAR
France Media Agency

What you need to know

  • At least 50 people, including five children, were killed in the Kramatorsk railway station missile attack on Friday;
  • President Volodymyr Zelensky calls for more weapons and sanctions against Russia;
  • Residents of Boutcha return after the departure of the “bastards”;
  • The region of Sumy “liberated” from the Russian army;
  • More than 4.38 million refugees have fled the country;
  • EU countries have already frozen at least €29.5 billion in Russian and Belarusian assets;
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin is aiming for a victory in the Donbass for May 9, according to his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron;
  • Global food prices hit their “highest levels on record” in March.

This bloody attack on the “capital” of the part of Donbass under Ukrainian control reinforces the international indignation which followed the images of massacres in localities from which the Russian army withdrew around Kyiv.


PHOTO FADEL SENNA, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Ukrainian soldiers and volunteers move the remains of a victim of the attack.

Senior European officials have also arrived in the capital to show their support for Ukraine, visiting Boutcha, a city symbol of the atrocities of which Russia is accused.

“Fifty dead, including five children,” regional governor Pavlo Kyrylenko wrote on Telegram messaging, adding that 38 people died on the spot and 12 in hospital, out of 98 people hospitalized in total.


Photo ANATOLII STEPANOV, Agence France-Presse

The body of a man lying on a bench on a station platform.

The missile fell around 10:30 a.m., at a time when candidates for evacuation have been gathering for days by the hundreds at Kramatorsk station to flee Donbass, now a priority objective for the Russian army.

AFP journalists saw at least 30 bodies in body bags or under tarpaulins outside the station.


PHOTO ANATOLII STEPANOV, FRANCE-PRESSE AGENCY

The bodies of victims were covered with tarpaulins.

“I’m looking for my husband, he was there, I can’t reach him,” a woman told AFP, trembling and sobbing, hesitating to approach the bodies, her phone glued to her ear.

Another, also traumatized, was looking for her passport in the abandoned cases. “I was in the station, I heard like a double explosion, I rushed against the wall to protect myself. I then saw people bleeding into the station, bodies all over the ground, I don’t know if they were injured or dead. The soldiers rushed to tell us to evacuate the station, I left everything here”.


PHOTO ANATOLII STEPANOV, FRANCE-PRESSE AGENCY

Abandoned suitcases, stuffed animals and food littered the platforms and the surroundings of the station with the red and white pediment, from which thousands of people have been evacuated in recent days.

The sidewalks were stained with traces of blood and on the forecourt in front of the station, the remains of a missile were still visible. It read in Russian “For our children”.

President Zelensky denounced “unlimited evil” unleashed by Russia and “inhuman” methods.

“Without the strength and courage to face us on the battlefield, they cynically annihilate the civilian population. It is an evil that has no limit. And if he is not punished, he will never stop,” he wrote on Telegram.

The strike was called a “despicable attack” by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, who arrived in Ukraine for a support visit accompanied by EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell.

Both went in the late afternoon to Boutcha, a small town northwest of Kyiv bombed and then occupied by Russian soldiers and where dozens of corpses wearing civilian clothes, some with their hands tied behind their backs, were discovered in early April, sparking outrage.

French President Emmanuel Macron for his part castigated an “abominable” action, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz speaking of an “appalling” attack.

Moscow immediately denied being responsible, claiming not to have the type of missile that would have been used and denouncing a Ukrainian “provocation”.


PHOTO ANATOLII STEPANOV, FRANCE-PRESSE AGENCY

The remnants of a missile that hit Kramatorsk station.

The Russian Ministry of Defense then accused “the Kyiv regime” of having “orchestrated” the strike to “prevent the departure of the population of the city in order to be able to use it as a human shield”.

Evacuations

Moscow regularly denounces Ukrainian “provocations” to defend itself from accusations of abuse and war crimes, as recently concerning Boutcha.

The Russian Ministry of Defense announced earlier on Friday that the Russian army had destroyed with high-precision missiles “weapons and other military equipment at the stations of Pokrovsk, Sloviansk and Barvinkove”, localities all located not far from Kramatorsk.

After withdrawing its troops from the Kyiv region and northern Ukraine, Russia has made the conquest of Donbass, part of which has been controlled since 2014 by pro-Russian separatists, its priority. It multiplies the attacks in the south and the east, the Ukrainian authorities endeavoring, as for them, to evacuate the civilians.

Evacuations by train, which had been interrupted due to the destruction of part of the railway, had resumed overnight from Thursday to Friday, according to the governor of the Luhansk region, Serguiï Gaïdaï, who had been encouraging for several days its inhabitants to leave so as not to “condemn themselves to death”.

In video: Residents of Boutcha return after the departure of the “bastards”





Russia and Ukraine still “agree” to meet in Turkey

Russia and Ukraine are still “agreeing” to meet for talks in Turkey despite recent abuses on the ground, a senior Turkish official said on Friday.

“Russia and Ukraine agree to hold talks in Turkey, but they remain far from agreeing on a common text,” the high-level official told reporters, declining to be named.

The question of the status of Crimea and Donbass remains difficult to decide, confirmed this same source, which did not advance a date concerning a possible new meeting on Turkish soil between the two parties.

The diplomatic aspect of the crisis between Russia and Ukraine shows no signs of progress.

Russia said on Thursday that Ukraine had backtracked on some of the proposals it made during talks in late March in Istanbul that Russia said it welcomed.

Turkey has twice hosted direct negotiations between Kyiv and Moscow, on March 10 at ministerial level in Antalya (south), and on March 29 in Istanbul, but “the positive atmosphere that emanated from them was unfortunately overshadowed” by the events of Boutcha and Irpin, said Thursday the head of Turkish diplomacy Mevlüt Cavusoglu.

Kremlin Circle

On Friday, the United Kingdom decided to sanction the two daughters of President Vladimir Putin and that of the head of diplomacy Sergei Lavrov, saying it wanted to attack the “lavish lifestyle of the inner circle of the Kremlin”.

Its Prime Minister Boris Johnson for his part announced the dispatch of additional anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles to Ukraine

And the European Union also adopted a new set of punitive measures on Thursday evening, including an upcoming halt to imports of Russian coal. This is the very first time that the Europeans have hit the Russian energy sector, on which they are very dependent.

Japan did the same.

Brussels is also planning new sanctions against Russian banks as well as the closure of European ports to Russian ships. At the same time, the EU is ready to release an additional €500 million to fund arms for Ukraine.

Kyiv is calling for the “immediate” supply of weapons, before it is too late to face a new Russian offensive in the East.

On Thursday, NATO promised, through the voice of its Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, “significant support”.

Slovakia, a member of the Alliance, announced on Friday that it had “donated” Soviet-designed S-300 air defense systems to Ukraine.

Many observers believe that Vladimir Putin wants at all costs a capture of Donbass before the military parade on May 9 marking the end of the Second World War, the most important celebration in Russia.


PHOTO FADEL SENNA, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A Ukrainian soldier in Severodonetsk, in the Donbass region.

The indirect repercussions of the conflict are also still being felt around the world.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations said on Friday that world food prices reached their “highest levels on record” in March, as the war in Ukraine upset grain and oil markets. plants.

An announcement that raises fears of a global food crisis and possible socio-political unrest that could result in some countries.

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