Today at 12:20 a.m. EDT|Updated today at 6:05 a.m. EDT
Today at 12:20 a.m. EDT|Updated today at 6:05 a.m. EDT
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called for a “firm global response” to the airstrike on a train station in eastern Ukraine on Friday that officials said killed at least 52 people. Zelensky called the attack in Kramatorsk “another war crime” by Russia, adding in his Friday night video address: “All the efforts of the world will be aimed to establish every minute: who did what, who gave orders.”
He spoke hours after meeting in person with a senior European Union delegation, during which European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen symbolically handed him a questionnaire, marking Ukraine’s latest step toward membership in the E.U.
The civilian exodus from Ukraine’s embattled south and east has picked up pace, with more than 6,600 people fleeing those regions via humanitarian corridors Friday, according to Kyiv. Russia has dispatched thousands more troops to eastern Ukraine, according to Washington, suggesting that fighting will intensify there.
Here’s what to know
- The Russian Ministry of Justice says it revoked the registration of Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and a dozen other international organizations and foreign nonprofits for an unspecified “breach” of law.
- The eastern Luhansk region will operate 11 evacuation rail routes on Saturday, its governor said, despite fear of another train strike amid increased Russian shelling.
- The Russian military has lost some 15 to 20 percent of the force it mobilized for the invasion, and some units are “almost completely devastated,” the Pentagon said Friday. Combat ahead will be a “knife fight … very bloody and very ugly,” a senior U.S. defense official said.
- The Washington Post has lifted its paywall for readers in Russia and Ukraine. Telegram users can subscribe to our channel for updates.
UNDERSTANDING THE RUSSIA-UKRAINE CONFLICT
Luhansk rail evacuations cautiously continue after station attack
The governor of the Luhansk region in eastern Ukraine announced that 11 evacuation rail routes would operate on Saturday and called for more civilian evacuations, in response to increased Russian shelling.
“We remain with the most difficult situation. The entire territory of the Luhansk oblast is being shelled, and all population centers are being shelled,” Serhiy Haidai, the Luhansk regional governor, said in an interview on public television. He added that the neighborhoods of Rubizhne, Popasna and Hirske faced the most intense shelling.
Haidai wrote on Telegram that 11 evacuation trains will depart from the Luhansk and Donetsk regions on Saturday.
The trains will run despite fears of attacks following a missile strike Friday on the Kramatorsk railway station that killed 52 people, according to the Donetsk regional governor. Haidai said the recent attacks on civilian infrastructure mean that greater safety measures would be put in place, including measures to prevent congestion around stations and limits on passenger flows.
The Donbas region of eastern Ukraine is a flash point for the war between Russia and Ukraine, as Moscow repositions troops away from the north to focus on the south and east. On Friday, more than 6,600 residents fled from southern and eastern Ukraine, officials said, this week’s highest daily count.
‘Responsibility is inevitable,’ Zelensky says after rail station attack
By Julian Duplain5:40 a.m.
President Volodymyr Zelensky has told Ukrainians that “responsibility is inevitable” after Friday’s attack on a train station in Kramatorsk — which killed at least 52 civilians, including five children, according to Donetsk governor Pavlo Kyrylenko.
“This is another war crime of Russia, for which everyone involved will be held accountable,” Zelensky said in a video address to the nation late Friday.
“All the efforts of the world will be aimed to establish every minute: who did what, who gave orders … and how the strike was coordinated,” he added, noting that “Russian state propagandists” have tried to shift the blame to Ukrainian forces.
Zelensky called for a “firm global response” to the attack, criticizing “the softness with which some in the West still treat the Russian state.”
He expressed gratitude for the “personal involvement” of European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, who was in Kyiv on Friday with European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell. They visited Bucha northwest of the capital, where von der Leyen said that “our humanity was shattered” after hundreds of civilians were found killed earlier this week in the wake of the Russian army’s withdrawal.
“I appreciate the E.U.’s readiness to provide the necessary financial and technical assistance to document and investigate Russian crimes,” Zelensky said.
The Ukrainian president also thanked the European Commission for a questionnaire to assess the country’s readiness for E.U. membership negotiations.
“I am convinced of our success on this path,” said Zelensky. “Ukraine will be a member of the European Union.”
Ten humanitarian corridors open Saturday, Ukraine says
Ten humanitarian corridors will be open Saturday to civilians escaping fighting in southern and eastern Ukraine, Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said Saturday on Telegram. Western officials have warned that Russia is escalating its attacks in those regions.
The evacuation routes will connect Mariupol, Berdyansk, Severodonetsk and other population centers to locations deeper inland, she said. People leaving Mariupol will need to use their own transportation.
On Friday, more than 6,600 residents fled from southern and eastern Ukraine, this week’s highest daily count.
Biden discusses Ukraine with South African leader, who blamed NATO for invasion
President Biden stressed the “need for a clear, unified international response to Russian aggression in Ukraine” during a phone call on Friday with South African President Cyril Ramaphosa.
Ramaphosa, who has blamed NATO’s eastward expansion after the Cold War for the Kremlin’s belligerence, said the two leaders agreed on “the need for a ceasefire and dialogue between Ukraine and Russia.” But he stopped short of condemning Moscow or Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Ramaphosa had previously denounced Russia’s attack on Ukraine as a violation of international law, but his country abstained on a vote condemning Moscow’s invasion at the United Nations General Assembly last month. The measure passed 141 to 5.
How isolated is Russia, really?
As a consequence of its invasion of Ukraine, Russia has become isolated. In a matter of weeks, it went from a highly integrated economy to one of the world’s most heavily sanctioned countries, and governments are going so far as to subvert long-standing policies and traditions to pour weapons and other equipment into Ukraine.
Members of the United Nations General Assembly twice voted to condemn the Russian invasion. Only a handful of countries, including pariah states such as North Korea and Eritrea, sided with Russia.
On Thursday, the General Assembly went further, voting to remove Russia from the U.N. Human Rights Council.
But the act of isolating Russia is not a true global trend. Though the United States, the European Union and other allies have imposed sanctions on Russian oligarchs and armed enemies of the Kremlin, most of the world’s population lives in countries that have not.
Macron calls Polish leader a ‘far-right antisemite’ after argument on Putin talks
French President Emmanuel Macron called Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki a “far-right antisemite” opposed to LGBTQ rights, amid an ongoing tussle among European leaders over how to engage Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The French leader, who is up for election this weekend, made the remarks in an interview published Thursday after Morawiecki earlier this month likened Macron’s talks with Putin to negotiating with Hitler, Stalin or Pol Pot.
Macron has held several discussions with his Russian counterpart in recent months, a task he told French newspaper Le Parisien was his “duty” even if it was “thankless.” He also accused Morawiecki of wanting to help Marine Le Pen, the far-right French presidential candidate, in the upcoming polls.
The Polish Foreign Ministry said Friday it had summoned the French ambassador in Warsaw following Macron’s remarks. Poland, like other Eastern European countries that were behind the Iron Curtain, has generally advocated a stronger response to the Russian invasion than its Western European counterparts.
Moscow forces closure of international rights groups’ Russian offices
The Russian Ministry of Justice announced Friday that it had revoked the registration of Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and a dozen other international organizations and foreign nonprofits.
The ministry said the organizations “were expelled after they were found to be in breach of the current legislation of the Russian Federation.” It did not specify what laws were allegedly broken.
Amnesty International Secretary General Agnès Callamard said its work exposing Russian war crimes would continue even with the Moscow office’s closure.
“Amnesty’s closing down in Russia is only the latest in a long list of organizations that have been punished for defending human rights and speaking the truth to the Russian authorities,” Callamard said. “In a country where scores of activists and dissidents have been imprisoned, killed or exiled, where independent media has been smeared, blocked or forced to self-censor, and where civil society organizations have been outlawed or liquidated, you must be doing something right if the Kremlin tries to shut you up.”
The Kremlin has previously tried to restrict the groups: Last month, Russia’s media regulator blocked access to Amnesty’s Russian-language website.
Katerina Ang contributed to this report.
Perspective: What I’ve seen in Bucha
This story contains graphic photos.
BUCHA, Ukraine — For weeks, I could see dark plumes of smoke rising above the city of Bucha from a destroyed bridge in Irpin. I focused my lenses on heart-wrenching scenes of people trying to keep their balance as they carefully crossed planks of wood placed over the river — the only gateway toward safety for the massive exodus of refugees fleeing with a handful of belongings.
Once I got within walking distance of Bucha, on March 10, I was warned of snipers. I photographed people passing the bodies of two Russian soldiers lying on a railroad track. Another corpse lay in the middle of the road, and I realized that any attempt to get closer would most likely be lethal: I had heard too many hideous stories of people trying to escape who were instead shot dead. Even cars with signs marked “children” in Ukrainian and Russian were attacked.
Russia expels 45 Polish diplomats in retaliatory measure
Moscow said Friday it would expel 45 Polish diplomats in response to Warsaw’s decision last month to banish a similar number of Russian officials.
Officials at the Polish Embassy in Moscow and at consulates in Irkutsk, Kaliningrad and St. Petersburg must leave Russia by midnight April 13, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement posted on Telegram.
Poland and more than a dozen other countries have expelled Russian diplomats following the Kremlin’s Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine. On March 23, Polish Interior Minister Mariusz Kaminski said Poland was expelling “spies pretending to be diplomats.”
In Bucha, a massive search for bodies left by Russian occupiers
BUCHA, Ukraine — There were bodies in every neighborhood.
This week, investigators in this Ukrainian town searched homes and mass graves to learn how many.
Russian soldiers occupied Bucha for a month, and their campaign of atrocities killed hundreds. Since the town’s recapture by Ukrainian forces last week, investigators have been drafted from across the country to comb neighborhoods for the remaining dead.
In a basement, they found five men, each with his hands tied together before someone shot them in the head. In a clearing not far away there was another body, left with the detritus of what had been a Russian military camp.
Thousands evacuated on same day that missile killed fleeing Ukrainians
More than 6,600 people fled besieged Ukrainian cities and towns through humanitarian corridors on Friday, Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said, the highest daily count this week, despite a missile attack on one of the corridors’ train stations.
More than 5,000 of the evacuees were from Mariupol and Berdyansk, port cities occupied by Russian forces, Vereshchuk said. In the country’s east, more than 1,500 people were evacuated from the Luhansk region, while the missile attack on a train station in Kramatorsk killed at least 50.
In Melitopol, west of Berdyansk, Russian occupants have blocked eight evacuation buses for 24 hours amid ongoing negotiations for their release, Vereshchuk said.
The deputy premier accused some local authorities of working with Russians and “now have the nerve to make the decisions [about] who can go where, and who can’t, when to pick up the humanitarian cargo, when to confiscate the buses on the humanitarian corridor route.”
Vereshchuk said those who commit “gross breaches of the international humanitarian law” will be reported and sent to “the international courts alongside the occupiers who are killing our people, who targeted with a rocket and killed on Kramatorsk railway station tens of women and children today, with hundreds wounded.”
U.K. commits $130m in new defense aid, Johnson to consider defensive weapons requests
Britain said Friday that it will send Ukraine a new security aid package consisting of more than 800 NLAW, or next generation light antitank weapon, missiles; Javelin antitank systems; Starstreak air defense systems; and nonlethal military supplies such as helmets.
The aid, worth about $130 million, comes after consultation with Ukraine’s military, the Defense Ministry said in a news release. Britain has already committed more than $520 million in economic and humanitarian support and over $450 million in military aid.
Speaking to reporters alongside German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he was “willing to consider anything by way of defensive weaponry to help the Ukrainians protect themselves,” when asked if he would provide Ukraine with tanks. Kyiv has repeatedly asked for such armored vehicles, which are more associated with offensive operations than the weapons London has supplied, such as anti-air systems.
The prime minister said he was open to “doing more” to backfill the arsenals of Eastern European NATO countries that were dispatching Soviet-designed weapons to Ukraine. “We should be giving equipment that is genuinely useful, that is operable by the Ukrainians,” he said.
50 dead in train station attack as Russian troops regroup in the east
KRAMATORSK, Ukraine — At least 50 people were killed and 98 injured in what Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called an “evil” Russian shelling attack on a train station where hundreds of civilians were attempting to flee ahead of expected attacks.
Grisly scenes emerged from the city of Kramatorsk, with bodies strewn among luggage, toys and debris. Witnesses described a large explosion followed by four or five “cluster bombs” that tore into a crowd of people who had gathered to catch an arriving train. Pavlo Kyrylenko, head of the Donetsk regional administration, said 38 people died at the station and another 12 died while in the hospital. Among the dead are five children, he said, with 16 children recorded as injured.
The horrific attack in Kramatorsk comes a day after Russia was suspended from the U.N. Human Rights Council over reported atrocities in Bucha and elsewhere, and as Western allies continue to boost military and diplomatic support for Ukraine.
The latest on Ukraine’s key battlegrounds and retaken cities
- Donbas region: The separatist region could face a “very ugly and very bloody” fight, a senior U.S. defense official told reporters Friday, after Russia’s military announced it was withdrawing from offensives in northern Ukraine and Kyiv to concentrate on the country’s east. A Russian missile attack on a Kramatorsk train station, an evacuation route for people fleeing Donbas, killed 50 and injured 98, including children.
- Odessa: Citing the train station attack, the government of the southern port city announced a curfew from 9 p.m. Saturday to 6 a.m. Monday. Although the city has endured relatively few attacks during the war, two missiles launched from the Black Sea targeted critical infrastructure in the Kirovohrad and Odessa regions, killing no one, the city council reported Friday.
- Kyiv region: Since Russian troops left the area, smaller cities near the capital have reported atrocities amid the siege, including indiscriminate killings and torture. Makariv mayor Vadym Tokar said 132 people were discovered fatally shot and 40 percent of the city had been destroyed, Ukrainian Pravda reported. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen visited nearby Bucha on Friday and witnessed bodies being pulled from a mass grave.
- Mariupol: Russian forces claim to have successfully captured central Mariupol, which the city’s mayor denies. Ukrainian forces are holding on to control in areas of southwestern and eastern Mariupol, but it is unclear how much longer they can hold out, according to the Institute for the Study of War.
- Chernihiv: Vladyslav Atroshenko, mayor of the northern Ukrainian city, said 700 people, military as well as civilians, have died there since the Russian siege began, the national news agency of Ukraine reported. He said 40 others are missing, presumed dead.
War in Ukraine: What you need to know
The latest: A missile attack killed at least 50 people at a train station in Kramatorsk, in eastern Ukraine, as an exodus from the country’s south and east picked up pace. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called the strike in Kramatorsk “another war crime of Russia” and vowed to hold the perpetrators responsible.
More than 6,600 people fled from embattled areas in the south and east via humanitarian corridors Friday, according to Kyiv, the highest count this week. The evacuations came as Russia dispatches thousands more troops to eastern Ukraine, according to Washington, suggesting fighting there would intensify.
The fight: Russian forces continue to mount sporadic attacks on civilian targets in a number of Ukrainian cities. Ukrainian prosecutors have been taking detailed testimony from victims to investigate Russian war crimes.
The weapons: Ukraine is making use of weapons such as Javelin antitank missiles and Switchblade “kamikaze” drones, provided by the United States and other allies. Russia has used an array of weapons against Ukraine, some of which have drawn the attention and concern of analysts.
In Russia: Putin has locked down the flow of information within Russia, where the war isn’t even being called a war. The last independent newsletter in Russia suspended its operations.
Photos: Post photographers have been on the ground from the very beginning of the war — here’s some of their most powerful work.
How you can help: Here are ways those in the U.S. can help support the Ukrainian people as well as what people around the world have been donating.
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