UK MoD Says Russia Targets Civilians

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

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

Russia was focusing its offensive, which included cruise missiles launched by its naval forces, on the eastern region of Donbass, the British ministry said in a daily press briefing.

He said he expected air attacks to increase in the south and east as Russia seeks to establish a land bridge between Crimea, which Moscow annexed in 2014, and Donbass, but the Ukrainian forces thwarted the advance.

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

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

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy called the attack on Kramatorsk railway station in eastern Donetsk region a deliberate attack on civilians. The town’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 exploded in mid-air, spraying bombs over a wider area. Read more

Reuters was unable to verify what happened in Kramatorsk.

Cluster munitions are banned under a 2008 convention. Russia has not signed it but has previously denied using such weapons in Ukraine. Read more

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

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

“Any delay in supplying (…) 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 shutdown of all Russian banks. the global system.

The more than six-week Russian incursion has seen more than 4 million flee abroad, killed or injured thousands, left a quarter of the population homeless and turned cities to rubble as it drags on longer than expected by Russia.

In Washington, a senior defense official said the United States “did not accept the Russians’ denial that they were not responsible” and believed Russian forces had fired a short-range ballistic missile during the attack. the attack on the station. Read more

The Russian Defense Ministry, quoted by the RIA news agency, said the missiles which allegedly hit the station were used only by the Ukrainian army and that the Russian armed forces had no assigned targets. in Kramatorsk on Friday.

Russia has denied targeting civilians since President Vladimir Putin ordered the February 24 invasion in what he called a “special military operation” to demilitarize and “denazify” Russia’s southern neighbor.

Ukraine and its Western supporters call it a pretext for an unprovoked invasion.

The Kremlin said on Friday that the “special operation” could end in the “foreseeable future”, with its goals achieved thanks to the work of the Russian military and peace negotiators.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has warned that the war could last for months or even years. Read more

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

JUDICIAL INVESTIGATION

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

Russia has called allegations that its forces executed civilians in Bucha a “monstrous fake” aimed at disparaging its military and justifying more sanctions.

Visiting the city on Friday, von der Leyen said he witnessed “the unthinkable”.

She then handed Zelenskiy a questionnaire to serve as a starting point for the EU to decide on membership, telling him: “It won’t be a matter of years as usual to form this opinion but I think a matter of weeks.” Read more

Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer is due to travel on Saturday for talks with Zelenskiy.

The bloc also overcame some divisions to pass new sanctions, including import bans on coal, timber, chemicals and other goods, as well as freezing EU assets belonging to Putin’s daughters and to 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 oil. Russian energy.

Ten humanitarian corridors to evacuate people from besieged areas have been agreed for Saturday, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said.

The planned corridors include one for people evacuated by private transport from the devastated city of Mariupol in the southeast of the country.

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Additional reporting by James Mackenzie in Yahidne, Ukraine, and Reuters offices; Written by Costas Pitas, Michael Perry; Editing by Daniel Wallis, Robert Birsel

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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