|Kramatorsk railway station attack|
|Part of the Eastern Ukraine offensive|
|Type||Missile attack, using cluster munition|
|Date||8 April 2022|
ca. 10:30 (UTC+3)
|Executed by||Russian Armed Forces|
A missile strike by Russian armed forces hit the railway station of the Ukrainian city of Kramatorsk on 8 April 2022, during the Russian invasion of Ukraine. As of 10 April, Ukrainian officials reported that 57 people were killed and 109 wounded as a result of the attack.
As part of the Russian invasion started on 24 February 2022, Russian forces allied with the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk People's Republics led an offensive aimed at seizing the Ukrainian-controlled portions of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts. The soldiers of the Armed Forces of Ukraine stationed in Sloviansk and Kramatorsk played a key role in resisting this offensive.
According to the Ukrainian government, between 1,000 and 4,000 civilians, mainly women and children, were present at the station waiting for evacuation from Kramatorsk, due to it being near the front lines of the conflict.
Two missiles hit near the railway station building in Kramatorsk at approximately 10:30, and the first reports were published in Ukrainian media at around 10:45. At 10:24 and 10:25, media affiliated with the People's Republic of Donetsk had published videos showing the launching of a pair of missiles from Shakhtarsk, a city under separatist control.
A World Central Kitchen aid worker, who witnessed the attack in Kramatorsk, said that he had heard "between five and ten explosions". Reports described the scene as extremely bloody. Authorities said that several people had lost limbs in the explosion. Bodies of victims of the attack were lying at the site amid abandoned luggage.
According to initial reports, at least 39 people were found dead at the scene (among them at least five children), but the casualty estimate was later raised to 52 as more survivors died of their injuries in the hospital. The governor of Donetsk Oblast, Pavlo Kyrylenko, said on 10 April that 57 people had died as a result of the attack, and 109 had been injured.
The missiles were initially misidentified as Iskander ballistic missiles. Pavlo Kyrylenko, governor of Donetsk oblast, later specified that they had rather been Tochka-U missiles armed with cluster munitions.
One of the rockets had the Russian words ЗА ДЕТЕЙ (za detey), which means "[in revenge] for the children", painted in white on its outside.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, who visited Ukraine on the day of the attack, condemned the attack as "despicable". French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian described the attack as a "crime against humanity", saying that it could not remain unpunished, while British Defence Secretary Ben Wallace condemned it as a war crime.
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". The Security Service of Ukraine opened criminal proceedings under Article 438 of the Criminal Code.
Royal United Services Institute analyst Justin Bronk said that Russia aims 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".
Response by Russia and its supporters
Initially, Russian state media and pro-Russian Telegram channels claimed successful Russian airstrikes on the Ukrainian military at the railway station of 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. The Russian Ministry of Defence claimed that the missiles were launched by Ukrainian forces from the neighbouring city of Dobropillia, southwest of Kramatorsk.
A fake video clip with a mock BBC logo, attributing blame to the Ukrainian forces, was also aired on Russian state television, before spreading on social media. The BBC has not produced any such video.
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. 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. In addition, 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.
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.[undue weight? ] 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".
- War crimes in the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Kramatorsk train station attack.
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