Ukraine: Ukraine has called for more weapons and tougher sanctions after blaming Russia for the missile attack that killed at least 52 people at a railway station packed with women, children and the elderly, threatening a Russian attack in the east. were running away.
President Volodymyr Zelensky called the strike in Kramatorsk, in the eastern region of Donetsk, a deliberate attack on civilians. The city’s mayor estimates that around 4,000 people gathered there at the time.
The United States, the European Union and Britain condemned the incident that occurred on the same day that European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen visited Kyiv to show solidarity and accelerate Ukraine’s membership process.
“We expect a strong global response to this war crime,” Zelensky said in a video posted late Friday.
“Any delay, any refusal to provide arms to Ukraine, can only mean that the politicians in question want to help the Russian leadership more than us,” he said, adding that he has called for energy embargoes and all-Russian banks. Called to separate from it. global system.
Regional governor Pavlo Kirilenko said the station was hit by a Tochka U short-range ballistic missile with cluster munitions, which explode in the air, spraying small lethal bombs over a wide area.
Reuters was unable to verify what happened in Kramatorsk.
More than 4 million people fled abroad, thousands were killed or injured in Moscow’s six-week-long incursion, leaving a quarter of the population homeless and turning cities into rubble as it lasted longer than Russia expected .
Cluster weapons have been banned under a 2008 convention. Russia has not signed it, but has previously denied the use of such weapons in Ukraine.
In Washington, a senior defense official said the United States was “not denied by the Russians that they were not responsible”, and that the Russian military is believed to have fired a short-range ballistic missile in the attack.
The RIA news agency quoted the Russian Defense Ministry as saying that missiles that struck the station were only used by Ukraine’s military and that Russia’s armed forces in Kramatorsk had no targets on Friday.
Moscow has denied targeting civilians since President Vladimir Putin ordered the February 24 offensive, which Russia calls a “special military operation” on its neighbour.
Kyiv and Western supporters call this an excuse for an unprovoked attack.
Ukrainian authorities now Russian army It is expected to attempt to gain full control of Donetsk and neighboring Luhansk, both partly held by Moscow-backed separatists since 2014.
The Kremlin said on Friday that the “special operation” could end in the “near future”, aimed at Russian military and peace negotiators achieved through work.
The White House said it would support efforts to investigate the attack in Kramatorsk, which Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson called “the depth to which Putin’s despicable army has sunk.”
According to Pavlo Kirilenko, the head of the Donetsk Regional Military Administration, at least 52 people have now died in the incident.
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On the side of the missile’s wreckage were the words “(It is) for children”. Russia has for years accused Ukraine of killing civilians, including children, in separatist-held eastern Ukraine.
As Russia focuses on the east, Ukrainian forces there said late on Friday they had repulsed seven Russian strikes, destroying nine tanks, seven other armored vehicles and two helicopters. Reuters could not independently confirm this.
Following Russia’s partial withdrawal near Kyiv, a forensic team began digging a mass grave in the city of Buka on Friday. Officials say hundreds of dead civilians have been found there.
Russia has alleged that its military killed civilians in Buka as a “monstrous forgery”, intended to discredit its military and justify more sanctions.
Von der Leyen, visiting the city on Friday, said it had seen “the unimaginable”.
He later handed over a questionnaire to Zelensky, which became a starting point for decisions on membership for the European Union, and told him: “It will not be a matter of years, as usual, to form this opinion, but I think it will It’s a matter of a few weeks.”
The bloc overcame some divisions to adopt new sanctions, which include freezing EU assets belonging to Putin’s daughters and more oligarchs, as well as banning imports of coal, timber, chemicals and other products. .
EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said a possible oil embargo would be discussed on Monday, but called oil sanctions “a big elephant in the room” because the continent is heavily dependent on Russian energy.
The United States on Friday extended its export sanctions against Russia and ally Belarus, restricting access to imports of items such as fertilizer and pipe valves.
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Kyiv wants heavy weapons deliveries and on Thursday secured a new commitment from the NATO alliance to supply a wide range of weapons.
Slovakia has donated its S-300 air defense system to Ukraine, while Britain will send an additional 100 million pounds ($130 million) in military aid.
In Prague, defense sources said the Czech Republic had delivered tanks, rocket launchers, howitzers and infantry fighting vehicles and would ship more.
Residents of the regions north of Kyiv meanwhile were still coming to terms with a month-long occupation.
In Yahidne village, residents described how more than 300 people were trapped in the basement of a school for weeks, with the names of those who did not survive or were killed by soldiers strewn across the wall.
Reuters was not able to independently verify the accounts. Journalists saw a freshly dug grave and two bodies wrapped in white plastic sheets.