Russia denies striking train station
The Russian defense ministry has denied claims coming from Kiev that one of its missiles targeted a train station in a Ukrainian held Donbass city. At least 30 civilians were reportedly killed and over 100 injured in the incident on Friday in Kramatorsk.
Kiev officials immediately claimed the strike involved a Russian missile, either an Iskander or a Tochka U. The Russian military stated it had no operations planned for the Kramatorsk area for Friday and called the accusations “a provocation that has absolutely no relation to reality.”
A spokesperson added that images shared by witnesses show debris from a Tochka U missile, a weapon system that “only Ukrainian forces use.”
A missile of a similar type hit the city of Donetsk on March 14, the spokesperson pointed out. The attack, which Moscow attributed to a Ukrainian missile unit, killed 17 people and injured 36 others, the statement explained.
Kramatorsk is a city in the northern part of Donetsk region and is claimed by the Donetsk People’s Republic as part of its territory. When hostilities flared in eastern Ukraine in the wake of the 2014 Maidan, the city remained under Kiev’s control.
Ukrainian officials claimed, without offering any evidence, that Russia attacked the train station deliberately to kill civilians preparing to evacuate. Moscow has insisted, from the start of its offensive, that it seeks to minimize casualties and only attack military targets as part of its stated goal of demilitarizing Ukraine.
Moscow attacked its neighbor in late February, following Ukraine’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements signed in 2014, and Russia’s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics in Donetsk and Lugansk. The German and French brokered protocols had been designed to regularize the status of those regions within the Ukrainian state.
Russia has now demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join the US-led NATO military bloc. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked and has denied claims it was planning to retake the two republics by force.