Ukraine calls on civilians to flee due to rising charges for attacks on the railroad

  • Ukraine wants more weapons, tougher sanctions for Russia
  • The US, EU and UK condemn the attack on the railway station
  • The West is imposing more trade restrictions on Russia

LVIV, Ukraine, April 9 (Reuters) – Ukraine called on civilians in the eastern Luhansk region on Saturday to flee Russian shelling after officials said more than 50 civilians trying to evacuate from a neighboring region by rail had died in a rocket attack.

On Saturday morning, alarm sirens sounded across much of eastern Ukraine, while Lugansk governor Serhiy Gaaidai called on people in a televised speech to leave as Russia was gathering forces for the offensive. read more

President Volodymyr Zelensky has called for a “firm global response” to Friday’s missile attack on a train station crowded with women, children and the elderly in Kramatorsk in the Donetsk region. The city’s mayor, who estimated 4,000 people had gathered at the time, said at least 52 were killed.

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The Russian defense ministry denied responsibility for the attack, stating in a statement that the missiles that hit the station were only used by the Ukrainian military, and the Russian armed forces had no targets in Kramatorsk on Friday.

All statements by Ukrainian authorities about the attack were “provocations,” she said.

A WAR MAY TAKE YEARS

Russia’s incursion, which has lasted more than six weeks, forced more than 4 million people to flee abroad, thousands killed or injured, left a quarter of the population homeless and turned cities into rubble.

The Kremlin said on Friday that what it calls a “special operation” to demilitarize and “de-Nazify” Russia’s southern neighbor could end in the foreseeable future, and its goals will be achieved through the work of Russian military and peace negotiators.

But NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, whose organization, like Ukraine, has dismissed Russian arguments as a pretext for an unprovoked invasion, warned that the war could last months or even years. read more

The General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine announced that Moscow is preparing to attempt to gain full control of the eastern regions of Donbass, Donetsk and Lugansk, partially held by Moscow-backed separatists since 2014, following the withdrawal of forces from the Kiev region.

The British Ministry of Defense said in a briefing that it expected an increase in air strikes to the south and east as Russia sought to establish a land bridge between Crimea – which Moscow annexed in 2014 – and the Donbass, but Ukrainian forces have foiled the attack.

On Saturday, ten humanitarian corridors were agreed to evacuate people from the besieged regions, including one for people evacuated by private transport from the devastated south-eastern port city of Mariupol, said Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk.

The mayor of Kramatorsk, Oleksander Honcharenko, said he expected only 50-60,000 of his city’s 220,000 inhabitants to remain in a week or two.

CLUSTER ACCUMULATION

Regional governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said the Kramatorsk station was hit on Friday by a Tochka U short-range ballistic missile containing cluster munitions that explode in the air, scattering bombs over a larger area. read more

Cluster munitions are prohibited under the 2008 Convention. Russia did not sign it, but previously refused to use such weapons in Ukraine. read more

Reuters was unable to verify the details of the attack.

In Washington, a high-ranking defense official said the United States did not accept the Russian denial and believes Russian forces fired a short-range ballistic missile during an attack on a train station. read more

The European Union and the United Kingdom have joined in condemning the incident that happened on the same day that the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, visited Kyiv to show solidarity and accelerate Ukraine’s accession process.

INTERNATIONAL REVULATION

Friday’s attack increased the wave of international disgust at the high level of civilian casualties after hundreds of bodies were discovered in Bucha near Kiev after the withdrawal of Russian soldiers.

Russia called the allegations that its forces were executing civilians a “monstrous forgery.”

Visiting the city on Friday as the forensic team began the exhumation of the Bucha mass grave, von der Leyen said she had witnessed an “unthinkable”.

Later, she handed Zelenskiy a questionnaire that was the starting point for the EU’s membership decision.

The bloc has also overcome some divisions to adopt new sanctions, including bans on the import of coal, timber, chemicals and other products, and a freezing of EU assets of Putin’s daughters and successive oligarchs.

Zelenskiy said in a video speech that the West must do more, including imposing an energy embargo and cutting off all Russian banks from the global financial system.

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Additional reports by James Mackenzie at the Jahidne offices in Ukraine and Reuters; Writing by Michael Perry and Conor Humphries; Editing by Robert Birsel and Angus MacSwan

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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