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War in Ukraine, Day 44 | A strike on a train station in Donbass leaves at least 52 dead

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(Kramatorsk) At least 52 people, including five children, were killed in a missile strike Friday on Kramatorsk railway station in eastern Ukraine, while senior European officials were traveling to Bucha, a city symbol of the atrocities of which Russia is accused.

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.

A “boundless evil” according to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, a “horrible atrocity” committed by Moscow for US President Joe Biden, a “crime against humanity” according to French diplomacy: the Kramatorsk massacre sparked a wave of Western condemnations, but Moscow denied any responsibility.


PHOTO FADEL SENNA, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

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

“At least 52 people died, including five children,” Regional Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko wrote on Telegram messaging.

The missile fell around 10:30 a.m. (3:30 a.m. ET), at a time when candidates for evacuation had been gathering for days by the hundreds in the city’s train station to flee the Donbass, now a priority objective. of the Russian army.


Photo ANATOLII STEPANOV, Agence France-Presse

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

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

The sidewalks were stained with blood, abandoned suitcases, stuffed animals and food littered the platforms.


PHOTO ANATOLII STEPANOV, FRANCE-PRESSE AGENCY

The bodies of victims were covered with tarpaulins.

On the forecourt, the remains of a missile were still visible: one could read in Russian “For our children”. A recurring expression of pro-Russian separatists in reference to their children killed since the first Donbass war, which began in 2014.

In the station, a woman, traumatized, was looking for her passport in the abandoned belongings. “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

President Zelensky denounced “inhumane” Russian 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.

This bloody attack on the “capital” of the part of Donbass still under Ukrainian control is a “horrible new atrocity committed by Russia”, reacted in a tweet Joe Biden.

A “despicable attack” according to the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen, who arrived in Ukraine for a support visit, accompanied by the head of EU diplomacy Josep Borrell.

Both went in the late afternoon to Boutcha, near Kyiv, where dozens of corpses wearing civilian clothes, some with their hands tied behind their backs, were discovered in early April after the departure of Russian forces, sparking a wave of indignation.

“Russia will sink into economic, financial and technological decay, while Ukraine is marching towards a European future,” Ms.me von der Leyen in Kyiv, at a joint press conference with Mr. Zelensky. “I am deeply convinced that Ukraine will win this war, that democracy will win this war,” she added.

“We share the same values ​​and it is for them that we are fighting,” replied the Ukrainian president.

The Austrian Chancellor, Karl Nehammer, must also go to Boutcha on Saturday, as well as to Kyiv.

The French head of state Emmanuel Macron had previously also denounced the bombing of Kramatorsk as “abominable”, his Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jean-Yves Le Drian even speaking of a “crime against humanity”.

More generally, Mr. Macron then added that France was in the process of “gathering evidence” against “Russian war crimes” in Ukraine. “We sent gendarmes and magistrates in cooperation to help […] to collect evidence of the guilt of Russian soldiers and the identity of these Russian soldiers,” he added.


PHOTO ANATOLII STEPANOV, FRANCE-PRESSE AGENCY

The remnants of a missile that hit Kramatorsk station.

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

“The Ukrainian armed forces committed a new war crime on April 8, by striking with a Tochka-U tactical missile”, reacted the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, while that of Defense accused Kyiv of having “orchestrated hits her to “prevent the population from leaving the city so that they can use it as a human shield”.

Evacuations

Moscow regularly denounces Ukrainian “provocations” to defend itself from accusations of abuse and war crimes, as in 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 total conquest of Donbass, part of which has been controlled since 2014 by pro-Russian separatists, its priority.

Many observers believe that Russian President Vladimir Putin wants to achieve this goal before the May 9 military parade marking the end of World War II, the most important celebration in Russia.





Moscow is therefore stepping up attacks in southern and eastern Ukraine, while local authorities are trying to get civilians to leave.

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”.

Threatened in turn by strikes, the large port of Odessa, in the south on the Black Sea, will experience a curfew from Saturday evening to Monday morning, local authorities have announced.

Kremlin Circle

Following revelations of abuses in Ukraine, Russia was suspended on Thursday by a vote of the UN Human Rights Council and has been the target of new Western economic sanctions, which do not, however, prevent the rouble, the Russian currency, to have regained strength over the past month.

As a result of this good performance, the Russian Central Bank even announced on Friday that it was reauthorizing from April 18 the sale of foreign currencies, which had been suspended at the beginning of March.

The United Kingdom has decided to sanction the two daughters of President Putin and that of the head of diplomacy Sergei Lavrov, saying that he wants to attack the “lavish lifestyle of the inner circle of the Kremlin”. The EU has also sanctioned the Kremlin chief’s two daughters, now on its blacklist.

It had already 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.

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.

The United Kingdom has announced the dispatch of additional anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles. And Slovakia is “donating” Soviet-designed S-300 air defense systems to Kyiv.

In Russia, the Ministry of Justice decided on Friday to close the premises of several reputable human rights NGOs, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.

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.


PHOTO FADEL SENNA, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A Ukrainian soldier in Severodonetsk, in the Donbass region.

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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