Dozens were killed and at least 300 injured as Russia bombed the major rail evacuation hub on the eastern flank of the territory held by the government in Kyiv, Ukrainian officials said.
At least 30 were killed when at least one Russian “Tochka-U” missile hit the main train station in Kramatorsk, a city about 75 kilometers (47 miles) away from the separatist-held Donetsk, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Friday.
The city has turned into an evacuation center, offering a chance to about 8,000 people a day — mainly women and children — to flee Russia’s war, Mayor Oleksandr Honcharenko said. Photos released by Zelenskiy and the Defense Ministry showed victims lying scattered around among packed suitcases. The attack drew strong condemnation from Ukraine and the European Union.
“Having neither forces nor bravery to face us on the battlefield, they are cynically destroying civilian population,” Zelenskiy wrote on Facebook.
Russia’s Defense Ministry denied responsibility for the attack, claiming that the type of missile found on the scene is used only by Ukrainian forces, Interfax reported.
Several hours before the attack, Russian forces shelled the only government-held rail link from Kramatorsk to western parts of Ukraine, the regional railway said.
More than 200,000 residents of the Donestk region have used the railway for evacuation since the war started on Feb. 24, regional government spokeswoman Tetyana Ihnatchenko told Ukraine 24 TV on Friday.
As the Russian offensive against Ukraine has stalled after six weeks of fighting, Vladimir Putin withdrew his troops from areas near Kyiv in a potential attempt to center on occupying areas in the country’s south and east.
The EU strongly condemned the attack, with foreign policy chief Josep Borrell tweeting it was “yet another attempt to close escape routes for those fleeing this unjustified war and cause human suffering.”
Borrell and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen are visiting Kyiv on Friday to meet Zelenskiy.
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