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Russia denies striking train station in Ukraine

The Russian defense ministry has denied claims coming from Kiev that one of its missiles targeted a train station in eastern Ukraine. At least 30 civilians were reportedly killed and over 100 injured in the incident on Friday in Kramatorsk.

Ukrainian officials immediately claimed the strike involved a Russian missile, either an Iskander or a Tochka U. The Russian ministry 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.”

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The Russian military added that images shared by witnesses show debris from a Tochka U missile, a weapon system that “only the Ukrainian forces use,” according to the statement.

A missile of a similar type hit the city of Donetsk on March 14, the ministry pointed out. The attack, which Moscow attributed to a Ukrainian missile unit, killed 17 people and injured 36 others, it said.

Karmatorsk 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 armed coup, the city remained under Kiev’s control.

Ukrainian officials claimed without evidence that Russia attacked the train station deliberately to kill civilians preparing to evacuate from the city. Moscow stated from the start of its offensive against Ukraine that it seeks to minimize casualties and only attack military targets as part of its stated goal of demilitarizing the country.

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.

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