Dozens of civilians killed in Russian attack on train station, Ukraine says

Suitcases and a baby stroller on a train platform in Kramatorsk, Ukraine
The train platform in Kramatorsk, Ukraine, in the aftermath of Friday’s Russian missile attack.
(Via Volodymyr Zelensky / Telegram)

At least 39 people are reported killed and dozens more wounded in the strike in east Ukraine, where Russia is now concentrating its forces.

Dozens of civilians were feared killed in a Russian attack on a train station Friday, Ukrainian officials said, even as the Kremlin acknowledged “significant losses” of its troops in a ferocious war that has ground into a seventh week.

Ukraine said a railway station in the city of Kramatorsk, where thousands of people had gathered for evacuation from their war-torn districts, was hit by a Russian rocket Friday morning. At least 39 people were killed — including several children — and scores more were wounded, officials said.

Kramatorsk lies in eastern Ukraine, the region where Russia is concentrating its forces after their futile attempt to surround and conquer the capital, Kyiv. The Kremlin denied responsibility for the attack, but as its troops now prepare to try to win more territory in an area already partially controlled by Moscow-backed separatists, the strike on the train station stirred fears that more brutal tactics lie ahead in a likely war of attrition.

“The inhuman Russians are not changing their methods. Without the strength or courage to stand up to us on the battlefield, they are cynically destroying the civilian population,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in response to the attack. “This is an evil without limits.”

The report of further grievous civilian losses came amid mounting international outrage over evidence of atrocities committed by Russian troops. Gruesome images of people shot execution-style or slain while their hands were bound have emerged as occupying forces withdrew from areas such as the Kyiv suburb of Bucha, with Zelensky warning in an overnight video address that worse discoveries were bound to come.

In Borodyanka, about 20 miles from Bucha, “it is much more horrible,” Zelensky said. Authorities continued digging Friday through the rubble of a number of residential apartment buildings in the town, where they say as many as 200 residents may be buried.

A peace sign in the yellow and blue of Ukraine stands near the clock tower in downtown Santa Cruz

SANTA CRUZ UKRAINE RELIEF

How to help

Lookout is compiling a running list of efforts around Santa Cruz County to help those affected by Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine. Please let us know if we’ve missed anything by emailing us here.

Ongoing: Capitola’s Sante Adairius Rustic Ales has released an IPA called Platform 4, with proceeds from sales going to World Central Kitchen, a nonprofit helping to feed Ukrainian refugees throughout the region. Platform 4 is available at both its Santa Cruz and Capitola locations. Follow Sante Adairius here for updates.

Ongoing: Pacific Cookie Company is selling a tower of a dozen cookies in the blue and yellow colors of Ukraine, with proceeds going to World Central Kitchen. Available at its Pacific Avenue store and online; details here.

Ongoing: Santa Cruz’s Sugar Bakery is donating proceeds from sales of its signature macarons to Ukraine relief. Follow here for details and updates.

Ongoing: Santa Cruz’s Temple Beth El is encouraging community members to donate to the Ukraine Crisis Fund from the World Union for Progressive Judaism. Details here.

Ongoing: Links to charitable organizations operating in and around Ukraine from the Community Foundation of Santa Cruz County.

Oct. 3: Ukrainian quartet DakhaBrakha will perform at downtown Santa Cruz’s Kuumbwa Jazz Center, with net proceeds going to Ukraine relief fund Come Back Alive. Details here.

TBA: San Lorenzo Valley native chef Jessica Yarr has a pair of fundraisers in the works: a weekly soup pre-order, with 10% of proceeds going to the nonprofit Voices of Children Foundation, and an April fundraiser with baker Jennifer Latham, formerly of San Francisco’s famed Tartine Bakery. Sign up for Yarr’s newsletter here for more information, and follow her Eastern Europe-focused pop-up Chickenfoot here. Yarr raised $2,400 for nonprofit Sunflower of Peace with an event the first weekend of March.

At the same time, a spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin’s government admitted that his country had suffered significant troop losses. The official Russian military death toll is about 1,300, but Western estimates put the figure at several times that.

“Yes, we have significant losses of troops, and it’s a huge tragedy for us,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Britain’s Sky News, without specifying a number.

He also suggested that the fighting in Ukraine could wrap up “in the foreseeable future,” either through achievement of Moscow’s battlefield goals or through negotiations with Kyiv. But Western and Ukrainian officials doubt any willingness by Putin to wind down his “special military operation,” peace talks have as yet produced no tangible results and Peskov himself vowed that the siege of the southern port city of Mariupol, at least, would continue.

“Mariupol is going to be liberated from nationalistic battalions, and we hope it will happen sooner [rather] than later,” Peskov said, alluding to Moscow’s contention that Ukrainian fascists are oppressing Russian speakers in eastern and southern Ukraine.

Mariupol, whose residents have undergone intense bombardment and terrible deprivation for weeks, is of strategic importance to Russia, which wants to use it to block Ukraine’s access to the Sea of Azov and to establish a land corridor to Crimea, the peninsula Moscow illegally annexed in 2014.

Further west along the southern coast, Ukrainian officials said that the historic city of Odesa — which would also be a major prize were it to fall — was hit by a Russian missile strike from the sea and that infrastructure was damaged. The report could not be independently verified.

Zelensky said that any investigation in Mariupol would show more of “the same cruelty, the same terrible crimes” by Russian troops as had been unearthed elsewhere.

Ukraine’s Prosecutor General’s Office announced Friday that it had logged 5,149 “crimes of aggression and war crimes.” In Bucha, the Kyiv suburb whose name has become synonymous with alleged atrocities against civilians, authorities say at least 400 residents were killed by enemy occupiers.

The German newsweekly Der Spiegel reported that Berlin’s foreign intelligence agency had intercepted radio exchanges between Russian soldiers casually discussing the killing of civilians.

Despite the growing dossier of independently collected evidence, Peskov repeated Russia’s denials of any massacres by its forces, calling the images of bodies lying in Bucha’s streets “a bald fake.”

On Thursday, the United Nations General Assembly voted to oust Russia from its top human rights panel in an unprecedented action against one of the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council.

Moscow has become further isolated with the expulsion of hundreds of its diplomats from countries that have excoriated it for launching the biggest ground war in Europe in more than 75 years.

By contrast, there are signs that diplomatic representation here in Kyiv is beginning to trickle back after many nations shut down their embassies and called staff members back home for fear of Russian forces overrunning the city. The Lithuanian ambassador announced his return to Kyiv, which followed Turkey’s decision to move its embassy from its temporary base in western Ukraine back to the capital city.

In another show of support, the president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, and the European Union’s top diplomat, Josep Borrell, were expected to visit Kyiv and meet with Zelensky on Friday. Borrell has proposed adding another $540 million to an EU fund being used to send weaponry to Ukraine, which has repeatedly begged the West for more arms to repel Russia’s invasion.

The EU and Britain announced more sanctions against Russia, including on Putin’s two adult daughters, following a similar move by the U.S.

Although Kyiv is a wraith of the bustling urban center it once was, and security checkpoints still dot the streets to try to keep out suspected saboteurs, a sense of collective relief seems palpable now that Russian forces have quit the area. People were out Friday strolling through the city’s wooded parks, little heed was paid to the occasional air-raid siren and liquor sales are permitted again, the fast-emptying shelves attesting to considerable demand. A 9 p.m. curfew remains in place.

Some residents have been returning, but authorities are urging residents of hard-hit northern suburbs — such as Irpin, Bucha and Borodyanka — to stay away until mines, munitions and other hazards are cleared from the streets.

Russian troops have pulled out entirely from Kyiv’s environs, British defense officials said in an intelligence briefing Friday. Some will be transferred to eastern Ukraine for the expanded Russian offensive there, but many will require “significant replenishment,” with a mass redeployment to the east likely to take at least a week.

McDonnell reported from Kyiv and Chu from London.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.

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