Dozens of people were killed and around 100 injured Friday in a Russian rocket attack on the Kramatorsk train station, one of the easternmost stations still operating in, Ukrainian officials said. The station was being used to evacuate civilians from eastern Ukraine’s Donbas region. At least five children were killed in the attack, according to the local governor.
NOTE: This article contains disturbing images of victims killed and injured in Kramatorsk.
“Lacking the strength and courage to stand up to us on the battlefield, [the Russians] are cynically destroying the civilian population,” Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said. “This is an evil that has no limits. And if it is not punished, it will never stop.”
Around 4,000 people, mostly women and children, were at the train station at the time of the attack, the mayor of Kramatorsk said. Graphic images shared on social media appeared to show a number of casualties in civilian clothing. At least 52 people were killed, Ukrainian authorities said, according to the Associated Press.
“This is a deliberate strike on the passenger infrastructure of the railway and the residents of Kramatorsk,” the head of the country’s national railway, Alexander Kamyshin, wrote on social media.
Ukrainian security forces were seen inspecting the remains of a missile across from the train station after the attack. The missile carcass had the phrase “for children” written in Russian on its side. The specific Russian phrase has a meaning closer to “on behalf of children” or “in retaliation for an attack on children,” rather than “aimed at children.”
Russia denied it had carried out the attack, blaming it on Ukraine’s own forces.
“All statements by representatives of the Kyiv nationalist regime about the ‘rocket attack’ allegedly carried out by Russia on April 8 at the railway station in the city of Kramatorsk are a provocation and are absolutely untrue,” the Russian defense ministry said.
Officialsthat Russia would pull troops out of other areas of Ukraine and intensify its attacks on the eastern Donbas region, and civilians have been rushing to evacuate the area.
“We’re going to get a lot of forces concentrating down there,” Nick Reynolds, research analyst for land warfare at the Royal United Services Institute, a defense and security think tank, told CBS News.
The speed at which the West can send military aid to help Ukraine will make a big difference in the country’s ability to hold off a further Russian advance from the east.
“We’re in a bit of an awkward position at the moment in supporting Ukraine because a lot of the stuff that’s quite easy to transfer and easy to put into the field…these stocks have diminished,” Reynolds said.
Larger systems that would be useful to Ukraine, like the S-300, are more difficult to transport and will take time to arrive at the front.
“To a degree, this next month will decide quite a few things. The battle for Mariupol will significantly shape the political situation: what is possible and what is not possible for both the Ukrainians and the international community and for Russia,” Reynolds told CBS News. He said that if the Russians are able to take the southeastern city of Mariupol, their strategic aims will become much more viable.
“But also, for the international community, it’s very important,” Reynolds said. “Because we don’t really have any options to de-escalate — no sort of politically or morally acceptable options to de-escalate with Russia, or return to any kind of even partial normalization of relations under a negotiated settlement — if Russia controls major population centers like that.”