Dozens of people have reportedly been killed in a rocket strike on an eastern Ukrainian train station used for evacuating civilians. More than 30 people have been killed and dozens injured in the Donetsk region, in the city of Kramatorsk, when two rockets hit the station, according to the head of Ukraine’s railways Olexander Kamyshin.
Thousands were at the station at the time of the strike, preparing to evacuate to safer regions as Russia focuses its troops on eastern Ukraine, regional governor Pavlo Kyrylenko added. The Kramatorsk railway station was one of the easternmost stations still operating in Ukraine and details of trains leaving the city had been posted by the local authorities, reports the BBC.
It comes as Russia is believed to be shifting its focus away from the north of Ukraine and towards the Donbas region in the south and east. The Ministry of Defense (MoD) said that in northern Ukraine Russian forces have “fully withdrawn” to Belarus and Russia.
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Early on Friday morning, the MoD said in an update: “At least some of these forces will be transferred to East Ukraine to fight in the Donbas.” It said many forces would need “significant replenishment” before being redeployed and any mass redeployment from the north is “likely to take at least a week minimum.”
Ukrainian authorities have been urging people living in the Donbas to evacuate. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky warned that Moscow is now trying to push deeper into the country’s east, where the Kremlin has said its goal is to “liberate” the Donbas, which is mostly Russian-speaking. “The fate of our land and of our people is being decided. We know what we are fighting for. And we will do everything to win,” Mr Zelensky said.
Russia has pulled all of its estimated 24,000 or more troops out of the Kyiv and Chernihiv areas in the north. Meanwhile, the largest of the besieged port city of Mariupol has now put the number of civilians killed there at more than 5,000.
The World Health Organization (WHO) said a “grim milestone” had been reached, saying it had verified more than 100 attacks on health care in Ukraine since the start of the war on February 24. The attacks so far have claimed 73 lives and injured 51, WHO said.
In other developments, the US and its Western allies moved to impose new sanctions against the Kremlin over what they branded war crimes. Vladimir Putin’s daughters have been sanctioned by the UK under measures to target the “lavish lifestyles” of the Russian president’s inner circle over the invasion of Ukraine.
The Foreign Office announced travel bans and asset freezes against Katerina Vladimirovna Tikhonova and Maria Vladimirovna Vorontsova on Friday. Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov’s daughter, Yekaterina Sergeyevna Vinokurova, also faces the same action. The US has already sanctioned Mr Putin’s daughters in retaliation against “war crimes” in Ukraine, and the European Union is expected to follow suit.
Later today, Boris Johnson will host a press conference with Olaf Scholz, the German chancellor. He is expected to urge Germany to phase out Russian gas imports more quickly, and offer a helping hand to Berlin due to their heavy reliance on Russian gas and energy exports. The UK has already pledged to end all imports of Russian coal and oil by the end of 2022, with gas likely to soon follow.
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