The British Ministry of Defense says Russia is targeting civilians

  • Ukraine wants more weapons, tougher sanctions against Russia
  • US, EU and UK condemn train station attack
  • The West imposes further trade restrictions on Russia

LVIV, Ukraine, April 9 (Reuters) – Britain’s Defense Ministry said on Saturday Russian forces are targeting civilians, a day after a missile attack on a train station crowded with women, children and the elderly that killed at least 52 people, it said the Ukrainian officials.

Russia is concentrating its offensive, which included cruise missiles fired by its naval forces, on the eastern Donbass region, the British ministry said in a daily briefing.

Airstrikes were expected to increase in the south and east as Russia attempts to build a land bridge between Crimea, which Moscow annexed in 2014, and the Donbass, but Ukrainian forces thwarted the advance.

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Ukrainian officials said shelling in the area had increased in recent days as more Russian forces arrived.

“The occupiers continue to prepare for the offensive in the east of our country in order to gain full control over the areas of Donetsk and Luhansk regions,” said the General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called the strike at the Kramatorsk train station in the eastern Donetsk region a deliberate attack on civilians. The city’s mayor estimated that 4,000 people had gathered there at the time.

Regional Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said the station was hit by a Tochka-U short-range ballistic missile containing cluster munitions, which detonated in mid-air and sprayed bombs over a larger area. Continue reading

Reuters could not verify what happened in Kramatorsk.

Cluster munitions are banned under a 2008 convention. Russia has not signed it, but previously denied the use of such weapons in Ukraine. Continue reading

The United States, the European Union and Britain condemned the incident, which took place on the same day that European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen visited Kyiv to show solidarity and speed up Ukraine’s accession process.

“We expect a determined global response to this war crime,” Zelenskyy said in a video released late Friday.

“Any delay in the delivery of … arms to Ukraine, any refusal can only mean that the politicians in question want to help the Russian leadership more than us,” he said, calling for an energy embargo and the foreclosure of all Russian banks in the global system .

Russia’s more than six-week invasion has fled more than 4 million people abroad, killed or injured thousands, left a quarter of the population homeless and reduced cities to rubble as it dragged on longer than Russia anticipated.

In Washington, a senior defense official said the United States would “not buy Russian denials that they were not responsible” and believed Russian forces had fired a short-range ballistic missile in the attack on the train station. Continue reading

The Russian Defense Ministry was quoted by the RIA news agency as saying that the missiles that are said to have hit the station were only used by the Ukrainian military and that Russian forces had not assigned any targets in Kramatorsk on Friday.

Russia has denied attacking civilians since President Vladimir Putin on February 24 ordered the invasion as part of a “special military operation” to demilitarize and “denazify” Russia’s southern neighbor.

Ukraine and its Western backers call this a pretext for an unprovoked invasion.

The Kremlin said Friday the “special operation” could end in “the foreseeable future,” with its goals being achieved through the work of Russia’s military and peace negotiators.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has warned the war could last months or even years. Continue reading

The White House said it would support attempts to probe the Kramatorsk attack, which British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said showed “the depths to which Putin’s vaunted army has sunk.”

FORENIC EXAMINATION

After a partial Russian retreat near Kyiv, a forensic team began exhuming a mass grave in the city of Bucha on Friday. Authorities say hundreds of dead civilians were found there.

Russia has labeled allegations that its forces executed civilians in Bucha as a “monstrous fabrication” designed to denigrate its army and justify further sanctions.

During a visit to the city on Friday, von der Leyen said she witnessed the “unthinkable”.

She later handed Zelenskyy a questionnaire, which was a starting point for the EU’s decision on membership, and told him: “It won’t be a matter of years, as usual, to form this opinion, but I think a matter of weeks .” Continue reading

Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer will visit Selenskyj for talks on Saturday.

The bloc also overcame some divisions to pass new sanctions, including import bans on coal, timber, chemicals and other products, and freezes on EU assets owned by Putin’s daughters and other oligarchs.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said the possibility of an oil ban would be discussed on Monday but called oil sanctions “a big elephant in the room” for a continent heavily dependent on Russian energy.

Ten humanitarian corridors to evacuate people from besieged regions have been agreed for Saturday, said Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk.

The planned corridors also include one for people evacuated by private transport from the devastated southeastern city of Mariupol.

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Additional reporting by James Mackenzie at the Yahidne, Ukraine, and Reuters offices; writing by Costas Pitas, Michael Perry; Edited by Daniel Wallis, Robert Birsel

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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