Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called for a “firm global response” after a missile strike killed 52 people at a train station in eastern Ukraine where civilians had gathered to flee a feared Russian offensive.
“This is another Russian war crime for which everyone involved will be held accountable,” Zelensky said in a video message, referring to Friday’s missile strike, whose victims included five children.
“World powers have already condemned Russia’s attack on Kramatorsk. We expect a firm global response to this war crime,” he continued.
rld leaders condemned the attack in the Donetsk capital, with US President Joe Biden accusing Russia of being behind a “horrific atrocity” that the French condemned as a “crime against humanity.”
At least 52 people including five children were killed, the regional government said, while Zelensky reported 300 wounded, saying the strike showed “evil with no limits.”
Zelensky said the bombing had been reported in Russia before the missiles had even landed and called for more weaponry to counter Moscow’s aggression.
“I am sure that the victory of Ukraine is just a matter of time, and I will do everything to reduce this time,” he added.
AFP journalists saw the bodies of at least 30 people under plastic sheets next to the station.
Body parts, packed bags and stuffed animals were flung across the floor.
On the station forecourt, the remains of a missile were still visible.
It was tagged with white paint with the words “for our children” in Russian, an expression frequently used by pro-Russian separatists in reference to their losses since the start of the first Donbas war in 2014.
“I was in the station. I heard, like, a double explosion. I rushed to the wall for protection,” said Natalia, searching for her passport among the abandoned belongings.
Another woman in a state of shock told AFP: “I saw people covered in blood entering the station and bodies everywhere on the ground.”
Russia denied being behind the missile strike, which came with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell in Kyiv for talks with Zelensky and to visit the scene of civilian killings in the town of Bucha.
Russia faces “decay” because of ever tougher sanctions and Ukraine had a “European future,” Von der Leyen said at a news conference with Zelensky.
Six weeks into President Vladimir Putin’s invasion, Moscow has shifted its focus to eastern and southern Ukraine after stiff resistance ended plans to swiftly capture the capital Kyiv. AFPRussian troops appear set on creating a long-sought land link between occupied Crimea and the Moscow-backed separatist statelets of Donetsk and Lugansk in the Donbas region, where civilians have been urged to flee heavy shelling that has laid waste to towns and complicated evacuation efforts.
“There is no secret – the battle for Donbas will be decisive. What we have already experienced – all this horror – it can multiply,” warned Lugansk regional governor Sergiy Gaiday.
In the city of Lozova west of Kramatorsk, more than 15,000 people have fled, Oleg Sinegubov, head of the Kharkiv regional military administration, said on Telegram.
“There are still about 50 thousand [people]. A large number of people will leave. Departures are organized both by rail and own vehicles,” he said, adding that fighting was taking place nearby.