Ukraine seeks firm response after missile kills 52 at train station | world news

By ADAM SCHRECK and CARA ANNA, Associated Press

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said he wants a tough global response to Russia after his forces fired a missile at a crowded train station, killing at least 52 people.

Zelenskyy’s voice rose in anger during his nightly speech on Friday night, when he said the strike at Kramatorsk station, where 4,000 people were trying to flee an impending Russian offensive in the east, was a another war crime.

Dozens of people were seriously injured in the strike, and among the dead were children.

Photos taken after the attack showed dead bodies covered in tarpaulins and the remains of a rocket painted with the words “For children” in Russian. The Russian wording seemed to suggest that the missile was sent to avenge the loss or enslavement of children, although its exact meaning remained unclear.

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The strike appeared to shock world leaders.

“There are almost no words for it,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told reporters during a visit to Ukraine. “The cynical behavior (of Russia) has almost no mark.”

The attack came as workers elsewhere in the country were digging up bodies from a mass grave in Bucha, a town near kyiv, where graphic evidence of dozens of killings emerged after Russian forces withdrew.

“Like the Bucha massacres, like many other Russian war crimes, the missile attack on Kramatorsk should be one of the charges in court that must be upheld,” Zelenskyy said.

After failing to take kyiv in the face of fierce resistance, Russian forces have now set their sights on the eastern Donbas region, the predominantly Russian-speaking industrial zone where Moscow-backed rebels have been fighting Ukrainian forces for eight years and control some places. .

Although the station is in Ukrainian government-controlled territory in the Donbass, Russia has accused Ukraine of carrying out the attack. So have Moscow-backed separatists in the region, who work closely with Russian troops.

Western experts, however, dismissed Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov’s assertion that Russian forces “do not use” this type of missile. A Western official, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss the intelligence, said Russian forces used the missile – and given the location and impact of the strike, it was likely of Russia.

Justin Bronk, a researcher at the Royal United Services Institute in London, added that only Russia would have reason to target railway infrastructure in the Donbass, as it is essential to the Ukrainian army’s efforts to reinforce its units.

Bronk pointed to other occasions when Russian authorities tried to deflect blame by claiming that their forces were no longer using an older weapon “to sort of cover their tracks and try to sow doubt.” He suggested that Russia specifically chose the type of missile because Ukraine also has one.

British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace denounced the attack as a war crime, and UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres called it “completely unacceptable”.

Ukrainian authorities and Western officials have repeatedly accused Russian forces of atrocities in the war that began with a Feb. 24 invasion. 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 have withdrawn in recent days.

In Bucha, Mayor Anatoliy Fedoruk said investigators had discovered at least three sites of mass shootings of civilians and continued to find bodies in courtyards, parks and city squares – 90% of which had been shot.

Russia falsely claimed that Bucha’s scenes were staged.

On Friday, workers removed corpses from a mass grave near a church in the pouring rain, lining up black body bags in rows in the mud. About 67 people were buried there, according to a statement from Attorney General Iryna Venediktova’s office.

Zelenskyy cited communications intercepted by Ukraine’s security service as evidence of Russian war crimes, in an interview from CBS’s “60 Minutes” that aired Friday.

“There are (Russian) soldiers talking with their parents about what they stole and who they kidnapped. There are records of (Russian) POWs who admitted to killing people,” he said. “There are pilots in prison who had maps with civilian targets to bomb. Investigations are also being conducted based on the remains of the dead.

Zelenskyy’s comments echo reports by German news magazine Der Spiegel that the German foreign intelligence agency had intercepted Russian military radio traffic in which soldiers may have discussed the killings of civilians in Bucha. The weekly also reported that the tapes indicated the Russian mercenary Wagner Group was involved in atrocities there.

German government officials have neither confirmed nor denied 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.

Elsewhere, in anticipation of intensified attacks by Russian forces, hundreds of Ukrainians fled villages that were either under fire or occupied in the southern regions of Mykolaiv and Kherson.

Ukrainian officials have pleaded almost daily with Western powers to send in more weapons and punish Russia further with sanctions, the exclusion of Russian banks from the global financial system and a full EU embargo on gas and oil. Russian oil.

NATO countries agreed on Thursday to increase their arms supply, and Slovak Prime Minister Eduard Heger announced during a trip to Ukraine on Friday that his country had donated its S-300 air defense system from the Soviet era to Ukraine. Zelenskyy had appealed for S-300s to help the country “close the skies” to Russian fighter jets and missiles.

A senior US defense official said on Friday that the Pentagon believes some of the retreating Russian units have been so badly damaged that they are “for all intents and purposes wiped out.” The official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal military assessments.

The official said the United States believed Russia had lost between 15% and 20% of its overall combat power since the start of the war. As some combat units pull back for resupply in Russia, Moscow has added thousands of troops around Ukraine’s second-largest city, Kharkiv, he said.

In Kharkiv, Lidiya Mezhiritska stood in the wreckage of her home after missile fire turned it to rubble.

“The ‘Russian world,’ they say,” she said, wryly invoking Putin’s nationalist justification for invading Ukraine. “People, children, old people, women are dying. I don’t have a machine gun. I would definitely go (fight), regardless of my age.

Anna reported from Bucha, Ukraine. Robert Burns in Washington, Jill Lawless and Danica Kirka in London, and Associated Press reporters around the world contributed to this report.

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