Thousands of people were waiting at a train station in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kramatorsk on Friday when a rocket strike killed dozens, including children, and possibly injured hundreds more, Ukrainian officials said.
At least 39 people were killed and between 87 and 300 people were injured, regional governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said in a Telegram post. Ukrainian officials earlier estimated about 30 people had been killed in the attack.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, writing on social media, said thousands of people were present in the station at the time of the strike.
“The inhuman Russians are not changing their methods. Without the strength or courage to stand up to us on the battlefield, they are cynically destroying the civilian population,” the president said on social media. “This is an evil without limits. And if it is not punished, then it will never stop.”
The Russian Defense Ministry denied targeting the station in Kramatorsk, a city in part of the Donetsk region that is controlled by the Ukrainian government. The station was being used to evacuate civilians. On Friday, almost 4,000 civilians were at the station, according to Ukraine’s Prosecutor General’s office, and children were also killed, Ukraine’s national police said.
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►Britain on Friday joined the U.S. in sanctioning the adult daughters of Russian President Vladimir Putin with asset freezes and travel bans in an effort to target the “lavish lifestyles of the Kremlin’s inner circle.”
►The European Union’s ambassador to Ukraine has returned to the nation’s capital, Kyiv, signifying improved security in the area. E.U. foreign policy chief Josep Borrell announced the news Friday in Kyiv where he joined E.U. Commission President Ursula von der Leyen for talks with Zelenskyy.
►Ten humanitarian corridors across three regions opened Friday, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said in a statement.
►On Thursday, the U.N. General Assembly voted to suspend Russia from the organization’s Human Rights Council as evidence of atrocities by the Russian military in Ukraine mounts. The vote was 93-24 with 58 abstentions.
►U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said Thursday that Russian President Vladimir Putin had “probably given up” on his efforts to capture Kyiv, noting Russia’s shifted focus to eastern and southern Ukraine
►The U.K. Defense Ministry said Russian forces have now fully withdrawn from northern Ukraine to Belarus and Russia.
After a rocket strike killed dozens at a train station in eastern Ukraine, global leaders and groups took to social media to condemn Russia and the attack.
Ursula von der Leyen, president of the E.U. Commission, called the attack “despicable.” . “The missile attack this morning on a train station used for evacuations of civilians in Ukraine is despicable,” von der Leyen said. “I am appalled by the loss of life and I will offer personally my condolences to President (Zelenskyy).”
European Council President Charles Michel echoed that response, noting it was “horrifying” to see Russia strike a station being used by civilians to evacuate. He called for action and noted that additional sanctions and weapons to Ukraine were underway.
UNICEF, which offers humanitarian aid to children in crisis, said it “strongly condemns” the attack and that the “killing of children must stop now.”
“This was a deliberate slaughter,” said Dmytro Kuleba, Ukraine’s minister of foreign affairs.. “We will bring each war criminal to justice.”
Russia denied responsibility for the attack.
— Ella Lee
UN humanitarian chief ‘not optimistic’ about ceasefire
The United Nations’ humanitarian chief is “not optimistic” that a ceasefire will be reached amid mounting evidence of atrocities by the Russian military in Ukraine.
Undersecretary-General Martin Griffiths told the Associated Press on Thursday the two sides “have very little trust in each other.” The two countries staged peace talks last week in Turkey but largely failed to produce a breakthrough — Russian President Vladimir Putin tampered expectations even before negotiations began.
On Thursday, both the U.S. and European Union escalated punishments on Russia: the U.S. Senate unanimously in favor of banning the importation of oil from Russia and ending normal trade relations with the country, while European Union nations agreed to new sanctions on Russia that include a ban on importing its coal.
The U.N. General Assembly also approved a U.S.-initiated resolution to suspend Russia from the world organization’s Human Rights Council amid mounting evidence of atrocities by the Russian military in Ukraine. The vote was 93-24 with 58 abstentions.
“War criminals have no place in UN bodies aimed at protecting human rights,” Ukraine Ambassador Sergiy Kyslytsya tweeted after the vote. “Grateful to all member states which supported the relevant UNGA resolution and chose the right side of history.”
Russians eye Donbas region in ‘the next pivotal battle of the war’
As they departed Chernihiv in northern Ukraine, Russian forces left behind a path of terror after weeks of siege: crushed buildings, streets littered with destroyed cars and residents in desperate need of food and other aid. And yet, the Russians wound up retreating after facing fierce resistance on the battlefields.
Now that Moscow is shifting its offensive toward the Donbas region in the east, what can be expected in Ukraine’s industrial heartland?
Ukrainian and Western officials say the Russians plan to encircle tens of thousands of Ukrainian troops in Donbas by moving from Izyum, near Kharkiv in the north, and from besieged Mariupol in the south. The timing will depend on how quickly Russia can take the southern port city, which has been reduced to rubble after weeks of bombardment but has yet to fall to the invading forces. Russia also needs to replenish the troops that were pulled back from Kyiv and other areas in the north.
The Washington-based Institute for the Study of War said in an analysis that the Russian troops will likely try to advance from Izyum to capture the strategic city of Slovyansk and link up with other Russian forces in Donbas in what it said: “Will likely prove to be the next pivotal battle of the war in Ukraine.”
Fox News correspondent Benjamin Hall shared his first update on social media since he was injured last month in Ukraine, and paid tribute to two colleagues who were killed in the attack.
“To sum it up, I’ve lost half a leg on one side and a foot on the other. One hand is being put together, one eye is no longer working, and my hearing is pretty blown, but all in all I feel pretty damn lucky to be here – and it is the people who got me here who are amazing!” Hall said on Twitter with a photo of himself on a stretcher in a since-deleted tweet.
Fox News cameraman Pierre Zakrzewski, journalist Oleksandra “Sasha” Kuvshynova and Hall were traveling in a vehicle in Horenka, a village nearly 20 miles from Kyiv, when they were struck by incoming fire March 14. Zakrzewski and Kuvshynova were killed. Hall was evacuated days later.
Hall said for Zakrzewski, “working was his joy and his joy was infectious.”
— Jeanine Santucci
Contributing: The Associated Press
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