Kramatorsk railway station attack

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Kramatorsk railway station attack
Part of Eastern Ukraine offensive
Окупанти вдарили «Точкою-У» по залізничному вокзалу Краматорська 03.jpg
The aftermath of the attack
TypeMissile strike
Location
48°43′34″N 37°32′34″E / 48.72611°N 37.54278°E / 48.72611; 37.54278Coordinates: 48°43′34″N 37°32′34″E / 48.72611°N 37.54278°E / 48.72611; 37.54278
Date8 April 2022
ca. 10:30 (UTC+3)
Executed by Russian Armed Forces (denied by Russia)
Casualties59 (including 7 children)[1][2] killed
110+ injured
Kramatorsk railway station attack is located in Ukraine
Kramatorsk railway station attack
Location within Ukraine

On 8 April 2022, a Russian[3][4][5][6][7][8] missile strike hit the railway station of the Ukrainian city of Kramatorsk during the Russian invasion of Ukraine. According to Ukrainian officials, the strike killed 59 civilians (including seven children) and wounded more than 110.[2][9][2] Russian authorities denied responsibility and blamed the attack on Ukraine.[10] According to the BBC and Bellingcat, the direction that the missile strike came from is unknown as of April 2022.[11][12]

Background

During the Russian invasion, which began on 24 February, Russian forces entered Ukraine with the goal of assisting the separatist People's Republics of Donetsk and Luhansk in seizing the portions of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts that were still controlled by the Ukrainian government. The soldiers of the Armed Forces of Ukraine stationed in Sloviansk and Kramatorsk played a key role in resisting the Russian offensive.[13]

On the night of 7 April, the pro-Russian Telegram channel ZАПИСКИ VЕТЕРАНА ("Veteran's Notes") warned civilians not to evacuate from Sloviansk and Kramatorsk on railways.[14][15] At around 10:10 the next morning, shortly before the bombing of the railway station in Kramatorsk, the Russian Ministry of Defence announced that they had hit railway stations in Sloviansk, Pokrovsk, and Barvinkove with "high-precision air-based missiles".[16][17][18]

Attack

Debris from one of the missiles, with the railway station visible in the background. The top half of the inscription ЗА ДЕТЕЙ ("[in revenge] for the children") is visible.

According to the Ukrainian government, between 1000 and 4000 civilians, mainly women and children, were present at the station waiting for evacuation from the region due to heavy Russian shelling.[19][20]

At 10:24 and 10:25, media affiliated with the People's Republic of Donetsk published videos showing the launching of a pair of missiles from Shakhtarsk, a city under separatist control.[21] At approximately 10:30, two missiles hit near the railway station building in Kramatorsk,[22] and the first reports were published in Ukrainian media at around 10:45.[21]

A World Central Kitchen aid worker who witnessed the attack in Kramatorsk said that he had heard "between five and ten explosions".[19] Reports described the scene as extremely bloody, with several people losing limbs from the explosions. Victims' bodies were strewn around amid abandoned luggage.[13][23]

The missiles were initially misidentified as Iskander ballistic missiles.[24] Pavlo Kyrylenko, governor of Donetsk oblast, later specified that they had rather been Tochka-U missiles armed with cluster munitions.[19]

The remnants of one of the missiles had the Russian words ЗА ДЕТЕЙ (za detey), which mean "[in revenge] for the children", painted in white on its outside.[25] It also had the serial number Ш91579, which investigators said could potentially be used to trace it to its original arsenal.[26][27]

Responses

Bloodstained pavement, empty baby carriage after Kramatorsk railway missile strike, 8 April 2022.
Emergency services at the scene of the incident.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy described Russia as "an evil with no limits".[28]

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, who visited Ukraine on the day of the attack, condemned the attack as "despicable".[29] French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian described the attack as a "crime against humanity", saying that it could not remain unpunished,[30] while British Defence Secretary Ben Wallace condemned it as a war crime.[31]

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres described the missile strike as "completely unacceptable".[32]

Oleksandr Kamyshin, chairman of Ukrainian Railways, described the event as being a "targeted blow to the passenger infrastructure of the railway and the residents of the city of Kramatorsk".[33] The Security Service of Ukraine opened criminal proceedings under Article 438 of the Criminal Code.[34]

Royal United Services Institute analyst Justin Bronk said that Russia aimed to damage Ukrainian transport infrastructure in order to make it difficult for Ukrainian forces to move around Donbas. He also suggested that Russia opted for that particular type of missile due to its presence in the Ukrainian army's arsenal, in order to "muddy the waters".[31] The Pentagon highlighted Russian responsibility for the attack as well as the strategic importance of the railway junction.[35][36]

Response by Russia and its supporters

Initially, Russian state media and pro-Russian Telegram channels[37][38] claimed successful Russian airstrikes on a military transport target in Kramatorsk. After it became clear that the missiles had killed civilians, however, earlier reports were redacted, the Russian government denied responsibility for the attack, and the Russian Ministry of Defence characterized it as a Ukrainian hoax.[37][39] The Russian Ministry of Defence claimed that the missiles were launched by Ukrainian forces from the city of Dobropillia, southwest of Kramatorsk.[40][17]

Russian media also said that the serial number of the missile was in the same range as one used by Ukrainian forces. Serial numbers cannot be used to prove which side fired the missile, however, since all Tochka-U's were manufactured at a single site in Russia and distributed from there across the Soviet Union. As a result, there was, for example, a close serial number match between a Tochka-U used by Russia in Syria and one used by Ukraine in Snizhne.[41][12][42] Moreover, both Russia and Ukraine have made extensive use of munitions captured from the other side.[43][44]

A fake video clip with a mock BBC logo, attributing blame to the Ukrainian forces, circulated through pro-Russian Telegram channels since 10 April. The video was also aired on Russian state television. The BBC has not produced any such video.[45][46]

Assessment of the Russian response

The Russian Ministry of Defense claimed that their forces no longer use Tochka-U missiles. However, Amnesty International, the investigative journalists of the Conflict Intelligence Team, and a number of military experts had already reported the use of Tochkas by Russian forces in multiple parts of Ukraine prior to the strike on Kramatorsk.[47] Moreover, investigators from the open-source Belarusian Hajun Project had published videos of several Russian trucks with Tochka missiles heading from Belarus to Ukraine with 'V' markings on 5 March and 30 March.[48] The Institute for the Study of War assessed that the Russian 8th Guards Combined Arms Army, which is active in the Donbas area, is equipped with Tochka-U missiles.[49] Russian news reports and social media footage showed the 47th Missile Brigade, part of Russia's 8th Combined Arms Army, displaying Tochka-U missiles at public events in 2021, including at the Victory Day parade in Krasnodar.[50]

On 14 April, Bellingcat stated that open source evidence remained insufficient to establish the direction from which the missile had been fired.[27]

On 18 April, PolitiFact assessed the possibility of the incident being a false flag, concluding that "there's no credible evidence that Ukraine was behind the April 8 attack at the Kramatorsk train station."[51]

See also

References

  1. ^ "Two more children died as a result of an enemy missile attack on Kramatorsk railway station". Front News EU. Front News EU. 14 April 2022. Retrieved 11 May 2022.
  2. ^ a b c Vakil, Caroline (2022-04-14). "Death toll in Ukraine train station bombing reaches 59, including 7 children". The Hill. Nexstar Media Group. Retrieved 11 May 2022.
  3. ^ Jonathan Beale (10 April 2022). "Ukraine war: Disbelief and horror after Kramatorsk train station attack". BBC. Retrieved 12 April 2022.
  4. ^ "Kramatorsk train station massacre sparks international outrage". Le Monde. 10 April 2022. Retrieved 12 April 2022.
  5. ^ "Ukraine evening briefing: Five developments as Russia strikes railway stations and fuel depots". The Telegraph. 25 April 2022. Retrieved 1 May 2022. At least 57 people were killed earlier this month in Russian strikes on a train station used for evacuations in the eastern city of Kramatorsk.
  6. ^ "Russia strikes 5 railway stations in central and western Ukraine, head of Ukraine state railways says". CNN. 25 April 2022. Retrieved 1 May 2022. Earlier this month, at least 50 people, including five children, were killed after Russian forces carried out a missile strike on a railway station in Kramatorsk,
  7. ^ "Impossible Choices in the Battle for the Donbas". The Atlantic. 24 April 2022. Retrieved 1 May 2022. The risks of evacuation, safer though it may be than staying, were underlined by a Russian strike on a train station in Kramatorsk,
  8. ^ "RUSSIAN OFFENSIVE CAMPAIGN ASSESSMENT, APRIL 8". Institute for the Study of War. 8 April 2022. Retrieved 1 May 2022. A Russian Tochka-U missile struck a civilian evacuation point at the Kramatorsk rail station in eastern Ukraine, killing at least 50 and wounding around a hundred evacuees.
  9. ^ "Прифронтовий Краматорськ. Мер розповів, як зараз живе місто і що робить влада". texty.org.ua (in Ukrainian). Retrieved 2022-05-02.
  10. ^ "Kramatorsk train station massacre sparks international outrage". Le Monde. 10 April 2022. Retrieved 1 May 2022.
  11. ^ "BBC warns over fake news video". BBC. 13 April 2022. Retrieved 19 April 2022. It has not yet been possible to verify the source of the missile.
  12. ^ a b "Russia's Kramatorsk 'Facts' Versus the Evidence". Bellingcat. 14 April 2022. Retrieved 19 April 2022. At the time of writing, the available open source evidence remains insufficient to reveal all details about the strike, including the direction of origin of the missile.
  13. ^ a b "'Evil that has no limits': Zelenskiy condemns Kramatorsk station attack". the Guardian. 2022-04-08. Retrieved 2022-04-08.
  14. ^ "Russian War Report: Russia makes false claims while blaming Ukraine for Kramatorsk railway station attack". Atlantic Council. 2022-04-08. Retrieved 2022-04-09.
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  18. ^ "Вторжение в Украину. 44‑й день войны". Медиазона (in Russian). Retrieved 2022-04-09.
  19. ^ a b c "Kramatorsk: At least 1,000 at railway station when rockets hit - witness". BBC News. 2022-04-08. Retrieved 2022-04-08.
  20. ^ "Ukraine says at least 39 people killed in Russian rocket attack on Kramatorsk train station". CBS News. Retrieved 2022-04-08.
  21. ^ a b "По вокзалу Краматорска ударили ракетой с надписью «За детей». Погибли 50 человек (в том числе пять детей) Больницы не справляются с количеством раненых, заявил мэр Краматорска". Meduza (in Russian). Retrieved 2022-04-08.
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  29. ^ "'An abomination': World reacts to deadly Kramatorsk attack". Al Jazeera. 8 April 2022. Retrieved 8 April 2022.
  30. ^ "Bombardement de Kramatorsk: Jean-Yves Le Drian dénonce un crime contre l'humanité". Europe 1 (in French). 2022-04-08. Retrieved 2022-04-12.
  31. ^ a b "Strike kills 50 at Ukraine rail station crowded with people". AP NEWS. 2022-04-08. Retrieved 2022-04-08.
  32. ^ "Missile kills at least 52 at crowded Ukrainian train station". AP NEWS. 2022-04-08. Retrieved 2022-04-09.
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  34. ^ "В результате обстрела Краматорска уже известно о 39 погибших, среди которых 4 детей". Archived from the original on 2022-04-08. Retrieved 2022-04-08.
  35. ^ "Pentagon: Russia fired a missile strike at Kramatorsk station". babel.ua. Retrieved 2022-04-25.
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