LVIV: At least 39 people were killed and 87 wounded in a missile strike on Friday on a railway station in east Ukraine that was packed with women, children and elderly trying to flee fighting, Ukrainian authorities said.
Officials said many of the wounded had lost limbs and were being operated on after the strike in the city of Kramatorsk, which President Volodymr Zelenskiy said was a deliberate attack on civilians using a Tochka U short-range ballistic missile.
“Lacking the strength and courage to stand up to us on the battlefield, they are cynically destroying the civilian population,” Zelenskiy said in a statement. “This is an evil that has no limits. And if it is not punished, it will never stop.”
European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, on Twitter, and British defence minister Ben Wallace, during a visit to Romania, both denounced the attack.
Ukraine president calls for more Russia sanctions, invokes Greek battle cry
White House Communications Director Kate Bedingfield said there was “mounting evidence that Russian forces are committing war crimes in Ukraine” and the U.S. embassy in Ukraine denounced it as “one more atrocity committed by Russia in Ukraine.”
Zelenskiy later said in a video address to Finland’s parliament that no Ukrainian troops had been at the station at the time of the attack.
Reuters could not verify what happened at the station.
The Russian defence ministry was quoted by RIA news agency as saying the missile said to have struck the station was used only by Ukraine’s military and that Russia’s armed forces did not have any targets assigned in Kramatorsk on Friday.
Donetsk region governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said Russian forces had fired a Tochka missile containing cluster munitions, but did not share what evidence he had of this. Reuters was not immediately able to verify the allegation.
Russia has previously denied using cluster munitions in Ukraine.
Ukrainian president says Russian actions in Ukraine make negotiations harder
Banned by the United Nations under a 2008 international convention that Russia is not a party to, cluster munitions are made up of a hollow shell that explodes in mid-air, dispersing dozens or even hundreds of smaller “bomblets” over a wide area.