EU condemns a "horrifying" attack on a train station in eastern Ukraine where evacuees had gathered, as the bloc formally adopts its fifth package of sanctions against Russia on the 44th day of the conflict.

Inhabitants of Kramatorsk leave the city after the evacuation order in Kramatorsk, Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine on April 7, 2022.
Inhabitants of Kramatorsk leave the city after the evacuation order in Kramatorsk, Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine on April 7, 2022. (AA)

Friday, April 8, 2022

Ukraine: Over 6,660 evacuated in last 24 hours

A total of 6,665 people were evacuated from Ukrainian cities through humanitarian corridors on Friday, a top Ukraine official said.

The number is more than the 4,676 who escaped on Thursday, Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said in an online post.

US broadens crackdown on Russian access to foreign goods

The United States has broadened its export curbs against Russia and Belarus, restricting access to imports of items such as fertilizer and pipe valves as it seeks to ratchet up pressure on Moscow and Minsk following the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

President Joe Biden's administration also restricted flights of American-made aircraft that are owned, controlled or leased by Belarusians from flying into Belarus "as part of the US government's response to Belarus's actions in support of Russia's aggressive conduct in Ukraine."

The Commerce Department said it will begin requiring Russians and Belarusians to get a special license when seeking to obtain a host of goods from US suppliers and pledged to deny those licenses.

US official: Some Russian units depleted

A senior US defense official says the Pentagon has determined that some of the Russian combat units that retreated from the Kiev area in recent days are so heavily damaged and depleted that their combat utility is in question.

The official described these units as “for all intents and purposes eradicated,” with only a small number of functioning troops and weapons remaining. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal US military assessments, did not say how many units sustained such extensive damage.

The official said some combat units that withdrew from the Kiev area are beginning to move toward the Russian towns of Belgorod and Valuyki for refitting and resupplying before likely deploying to the Donbass region of Ukraine.

Russia deregisters Human Rights Watch, Amnesty

Russia said it was shutting down the local offices of Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International that have been working in the country for the past 30 years.

The announcement came on the 44th day of Russia's military campaign in pro-Western Ukraine, with thousands killed and more than 11 million having fled their homes or the country in the worst refugee crisis in Europe since World War II.

Human Rights Watch has been operating in Russia for 30 years, while Amnesty has had a presence in the country since 1993.

Biden: Russia behind 'horrific' attack on Ukraine train station

US President Joe Biden has accused Russia of being behind a rocket attack on a train station in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kramatorsk, deeming the incident a "horrific atrocity."

"The attack on a Ukrainian train station is yet another horrific atrocity committed by Russia, striking civilians who were trying to evacuate and reach safety," Biden said on Twitter.

EU publishes sanctions against Putin's two daughters

The EU has blacklisted Russian President Vladimir Putin's two adult daughters and more than 200 other people as part of its latest sanctions package over Moscow's military operation in Ukraine, according to an official list.

Those on the list, which additionally included 18 companies, face asset seizures and travel bans in the 27-nation European Union.

The United States and Britain had already sanctioned Putin's two daughters: Maria Vorontsova and Katerina (or Ekaterina) Tikhonova, born in 1985 and 1986 respectively.

UN: Attack on Ukraine train station completely unacceptable

The UN has decried a strike blamed by Ukraine on Russia against a railway station in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kramatorsk that left at least 50 people dead.

"The strike on the Kramatorsk railway station in eastern Ukraine today, which killed and injured scores of civilians waiting to be evacuated, including many women, children and elderly, and other attacks against civilians and on civilian infrastructure are completely unacceptable," Stephane Dujarric, spokesperson for UN chief Antonio Guterres, said in written a statement.

Those attacks, he said, are "gross violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law" and their perpetrators must be "held accountable."

Strike on Ukraine rail station 'crime against humanity': France

A strike blamed by Ukraine on Russia against a railway station in the east of the country that left at least 50 people dead can be classified as a crime against humanity, France has said.

"They hit a station where there are refugees, civilians and so this can be seen as a crime against humanity," Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told France 5 television, calling for experts to head to the scene in Kramatorsk to gather evidence so the perpetrators can be held to account.

Odessa imposes weekend curfew over 'missile strike threat'

Ukraine's southern city of Odessa has imposed a weekend-long curfew over a "missile strike threat" from Russia, after the reported shelling of a train station that killed dozens in the eastern city of Kramatorsk.

"A curfew will be introduced in Odessa and Odessa region from 9PM on April 9 to 6PM April 11," Odessa's regional military administration said on Facebook. The decision was taken "given events in Kramatorsk" and "threat of a missile strike on Odessa", it said.

US deploying Patriot battery to Slovakia after S-300 sent to Ukraine

The US is deploying a Patriot anti-air system to Slovakia after Bratislava delivered an S-300 battery to Ukraine, US President Joe Biden has announced.

Biden lauded the Slovakian government for transferring the S-300 to Ukraine, saying it is part of US efforts to ensure Ukraine "can defend itself against Russian aggression."

Russia revokes registration of Amnesty and Human Rights Watch

Russia's justice ministry has said it has revoked the registration of 15 foreign organisations, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch (HRW).

The Russian units of the organisations, which also included the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, "were excluded due to the discovery of violations of the current legislation of the Russian Federation," the ministry said in a statement.

The decision, which did not give details of any violations, was announced days after New York-based HRW said it had found "several cases of Russian military forces committing laws-of-war violations" in Ukraine.

Kramatorsk rail attack was a 'crime against humanity': Ukraine's prosecutor general

Ukraine's Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova has said a deadly missile strike on a rail station packed with evacuees in the eastern city of Kramatorsk is a "crime against humanity."

At least 50 people were killed and dozens wounded in the attack that Ukrainian authorities say was carried out by Russian forces. The Russian defence ministry has denied its troops were behind the strike.

Mitsubishi says it has stopped vehicle production in Russia

Japanese automaker Mitsubishi Motors has said it has stopped production at its Russian plant in Kaluga, which it owns together with Stellantis, until further notice, joining other major carmakers that have halted their operations in Russia.

Türkiye voices 'sadness' after strike on Ukraine train station

Türkiye has expressed "great sadness" over a rocket attack on a train station in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kramatorsk, killing fifty people including five children.

"It has been learnt with great sadness that dozens of people waiting to be evacuated died and were injured" as a result of the strike, the foreign ministry said in a statement.

"This tragic event has once again demonstrated the importance and urgency of establishing humanitarian corridors in order to ensure the safe evacuation of civilians," it added.

Evacuations in Donetsk region to continue despite rail attack: governor

People will still be able to evacuate by rail from Ukraine's eastern Donetsk region despite a deadly missile strike on a railway station in the city of Kramatorsk on Friday, regional governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said on national television.

Death toll from missile attack in east Ukraine rises to 50, says governor

At least 50 people have been killed, including five children, in a missile strike on a rail station in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kramatorsk, regional governor Pavlo Kyrylenko has said.

In an online post updating an earlier preliminary death toll of 39, Kyrylenko said the dead included victims who had died of their wounds after being taken to hospital or medical centres.

Slovakia gives S-300 air defence system to Ukraine

Slovak Prime Minister Eduard Heger has said the EU member has given Ukraine an S-300 air defence system, adding that it does not mean Slovakia joined the conflict with Russia.

"I can confirm that the Slovak Republic has donated the S-300 air defence system to Ukraine, following Ukraine's request for assistance," Heger posted on Facebook. "The donation of the system does not mean that the Slovak Republic has become a part of the armed conflict in Ukraine."

He added that Slovakia's defence "will be strengthened in the coming days by an additional missile defence system from our allies," Heger said.

EU ambassador to Ukraine returns to Kiev

The European Union has returned its ambassador to Ukraine to the capital, Kiev, in a move that underscores the improved security situation there and the 27-nation bloc's commitment to the beleaguered country.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell made the announcement during a visit to Kiev where he joined EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen for talks with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

Borrell said the ambassador's return would help ensure that the EU and Ukraine’s government can work together more directly and closely.

Russians' spending on food doubles following Ukraine conflict - UN food agency

Russian citizens are spending on average 40 percent of their disposable income on food - about twice as much as they did before the Russia-Ukraine conflict, the director of the UN food agency's Russia liaison office said.

Russian government data shows annual food inflation hit 18.75 percent on April 1 as the economy reels from Western sanctions imposed on Moscow following its February 24 attack in Ukraine.

Oleg Kobiakov of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said many Russian households are now resorting to crisis coping strategies as much of their income goes towards basic needs like food. 

700 people killed in Chernihiv since start of conflict: mayor

Some 700 people have been killed in the Ukrainian city of Chernihiv, including both military and civilians, since the start of Russia's military operation in February, the mayor has told Unian news agency.

"I can give you an approximate figure – 700 people. This includes military and civilians," Vladyslav Atroshenko said, adding that two-thirds of the pre-conflict population of 300,000 people had fled.

Russia denies attack on Ukrainian train station

Russia's defence ministry has said it did not launch an attack on a train station in eastern Ukraine, which a local rescue worker said killed dozens of people.

"All statements by representatives of the Kiev nationalist regime about the 'rocket attack' allegedly carried out by Russia on April 8 at the railway station in the city of Kramatorsk are a provocation and are absolutely untrue," the ministry said in a statement.

"We emphasise that Tochka-U tactical missiles, fragments of which were found near the Kramatorsk railway station and published by eyewitnesses, are used only by the Ukrainian armed forces," the ministry added.

Dozens killed, injured in Ukraine train station strike

At least 39 people have been killed and 87 wounded in a Russian rocket strike on a railway station packed with evacuees in east Ukraine, regional Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko has said, updating an earlier estimate of 30 killed.

In an online post, he said many of the wounded were in a serious condition in the strike in the city of Kramatorsk, one of the deadliest in the six-week conflict.

The attack showed "evil with no limits", Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said. In an address to Finnish parliament, he said no Ukrainian troops were at the railway station.

"This is a deliberate attack on the passenger infrastructure of the railway and the residents of Kramatorsk" Alexander Kamyshin, the head of the national railway company, said, adding that over 100 people suffered injuries.

EU accuses Russia of 'horrifying' attack

EU Council chief Charles Michel has accused Russia of the "horrifying" rocket attack on a train station, saying Moscow was cutting off an escape route for civilians.

"Horrifying to see Russia strike one of the main stations used by civilians evacuating the region where Russia is stepping up its attack," Michel said on Twitter.

The governor of Donetsk region said thousands of civilians were at the train station waiting to evacuate when the rocket struck.

The remains of a large rocket with the words
The remains of a large rocket with the words "for our children" in Russian was lying just adjacent to the main building of the train station in Kramatorsk after the attack. (AFP)

Coal for Europe can be redirected elsewhere: Russia

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov has said coal is in high demand, and that Russian coal earmarked for Europe would be redirected to other markets if the EU refused it.

"Coal is still a highly sought-after commodity. As consumption in Europe is abandoned, here there is a certain grace period, coal flows will be redirected to alternative markets," Peskov said.

Peskov also said its "special operation" in Ukraine could end in the "foreseeable future" since its aims were being achieved and work was being carried out by both the Russian military and Russian peace negotiators.

EU has frozen $32B in Russian, Belarusian assets

The EU has so far frozen nearly 30 billion euros in assets from blacklisted Russian and Belarusian individuals and companies under sanctions imposed for Moscow's military campaign in Ukraine, it has said.

A total of 29.5 billion euros ($32 billion) "including assets such as boats, helicopters, real estate and artwork" have been seized and another 196 billion euros of transactions have been blocked, the European Commission said in a statement.

The EU's figures were partial, based on data from around half of the EU's 27 member states given to the bloc's "Freeze and Seize" task force opera ting in coordination with G7 partners including the US.

Japan ends Russian coal imports

Japan has said it will end imports of Russian coal. "Russian troops have killed civilians and have attacked nuclear facilities, gravely violating international humanitarian law. These are war crimes that can never be forgiven," Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida told reporters.

"We will ban imports of Russian coal," Kishida said, pledging to find alternatives and asking Japanese citizens for their "understanding and cooperation."

UK sanctions Russian President Vladimir Putin's daughters

Britain has added Vladimir Putin's daughters to its sanctions list, mirroring moves by the United States, in what it said was an effort to target the lifestyles of those in the Russian president's inner circle.

An update to Britain's sanctions list announced asset freezes on Putin's adult daughters Katerina Tikhonova and Maria Vorontsova, and Sergeyevna Vinokurova, the daughter of Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

EU adopts new sanctions, including coal import ban

The European Union has formally adopted its fifth package of sanctions against Russia, including bans on the import of coal, wood, chemicals and other products.

The measures also prevent many Russian vessels and trucks from accessing the EU, further crippling trade, and will ban all transactions with four Russian banks, including VTB.

The ban on coal imports will be fully effective from the second week of August. No new contracts can be signed from Friday, when sanctions are to be published in the EU's official journal.

These latest sanctions were adopted following the atrocities committed by Russian armed forces in Bucha and other places under Russian occupation

Josep Borrell, EU Foreign Policy Chief

Governor: Ukraine forces control Sumy region

Ukrainian forces are in control of the entire northeast region of Sumy along the border with Russia, its governor has said, warning residents against returning while it was being cleared of mines.

"The area is free of orcs," Sumy regional governor Dmytro Zhyvytsky said on social media, referring to Russian troops. "The region is not safe. There are many areas that have been mined and are still not cleared," he said.

Meanwhile, the governor of Ukraine's eastern region of Luhansk said Russia was accumulating forces in eastern Ukraine but had not broken through Ukrainian defences.

EU imposes sanctions on Putin's daughters

The European Union has imposed sanctions on two adult daughters of Russian President Vladimir Putin as part of a new package of measures targeting Russia, according to two EU officials. It follows a similar move by the US.

The EU included Maria Vorontsova and Katerina Tikhonova in its updated list of individuals facing assets freeze and travel bans.

The two EU officials from different EU member countries spoke on condition of anonymity to The Associated Press because the updated list of sanctions has not been published yet.

Türkiye, British, Italian defence ministers to meet in Istanbul

The defence ministers of Türkiye, Britain and Italy will meet in Istanbul to discuss Russia's attacks on Ukraine and security ties between the three NATO allies, the Turkish Defence Ministry has said.

British Defence Secretary Ben Wallace and Italian Defence Minister Lorenzo Guerini will visit Istanbul at the invitation of their Turkish counterpart, Hulusi Akar.

"At the meeting, where an exchange of views will be carried out on defence and security relations between the countries and on regional issues, developments in Ukraine are also expected to be discussed," the statement said.

World food prices hit record high over Ukraine: FAO

World food prices have hit an all-time high in March with Russia's assault on Ukraine sending "shocks" through markets for staple grains and vegetable oils, the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization has said.

"World food commodity prices made a significant leap in March to reach their highest levels ever..," the FAO said in a statement.

The FAO's food price index, which reported a record in February, surged by 12.6 percent last month, "making a giant leap to a new highest level since its inception in 1990", the UN agency said.

Slovak PM, top EU leaders visit Ukraine capital

Slovak Prime Minister Eduard Heger and two top European Union officials are in Kiev looking to shore up the bloc’s support for Ukraine.

Heger said in a tweet  that he, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and EU foreign policy chief have come with trade and humanitarian aid proposals.

Part of that, Heger says, is “to offer options for transporting grains, including wheat.” Ukraine is a major world wheat supplier and Russia’s attacks on Ukraine is creating shortages, notably in the Middle East.

Ukraine grain harvest to be 20% less than last year

Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal has said this year's grain harvest is likely to be 20 percent less than last year because of a reduced sowing area following Russia's assault.

He said there was a shortage of fuel for farmers but Ukraine knew how to keep them supplied. He also said Ukraine had large stocks of grain, cereals and vegetable oil, and could feed its population.

Macron warns of 'difficult scenes' to come in Donbass

French President Emmanuel Macron has said that he expects Russian forces to step up their attacks in the eastern Donbass region of Ukraine in the coming weeks, leading to further "difficult scenes" after the reported atrocities against civilians near Kiev.

"This war is unfortunately not going to stop in the coming days," Macron told RTL radio, adding that he saw little chance of "diplomatic concessions" from Russian President Vladimir Putin anytime soon.

Macron acknowledged like other Western leaders that Putin's retreat from areas near Kiev could presage a focus on capturing areas in the east and south to create a land link between Crimea and the Moscow-backed separatist statelets of Donetsk and Luhansk in Donbass.

Japan says expelling eight Russian diplomats, officials

Japan has said it will expel eight Russian diplomats and officials, calling Moscow's actions in Ukraine "categorically unacceptable" and a violation of international law.

"As a result of our country's comprehensive judgment, we have requested the expulsion of eight diplomats from the Russian Embassy in Japan and officials from the Office of the Trade Representative of the Russian Federation," foreign ministry spokeswoman Hikariko Ono said.

Latvia blacklists 15 Russians, Belarusians

Latvia has blacklisted 15 citizens of Russia and Belarus on grounds that their activities pose a threat to the nation’s national security.

A list of nine Russians and six Belarus citizens was given by Latvia’s State Security Service to Interior Minister Marija Golubeva.

The State Security Service said they include people who “may be involved in obtaining intelligence or providing support for Russia’s foreign policy interests."

Russia has suffered ‘significant losses of troops’ in Ukraine

Russia has suffered “significant losses of troops” in Ukraine, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov has said. 

"This is a huge tragedy for us," he told SkyNews TV in an interview.

Russian forces have fully withdrawn from northern Ukraine: UK

Russian forces have now fully withdrawn from northern Ukraine to Belarus and Russia, British military intelligence has said. 

At least some of these Russian forces will be transferred to east Ukraine to fight in the Donbass, the Ministry of Defence. 

The forces will require replenishment before being deployed further east, with any mass redeployment from the north likely to take at least a week, the ministry added. 

The ministry said Russian shelling of cities in the east and south continues and Russian forces have advanced further south from the city of Izium, which remains under their control.

US blacklists Russian shipbuilder and diamond mining company 

The United States has blacklisted two Russian state-owned enterprises, United Shipbuilding Corp and the Alrosa diamond mining company, denying them access to the US financial system over Russia's military offensive in Ukraine. 

Earlier, US President Joe Biden called the images emerging as Russian troops withdraw from parts of Ukraine an "outrage" to humanity, as he hailed Moscow's expulsion from the UN Human Rights Council.

"Russia's lies are no match for the undeniable evidence of what is happening in Ukraine," Biden said in a statement. "The signs of people being raped, tortured, executed –– in some cases having their bodies desecrated –– are an outrage to our common humanity."

For live updates from Thursday (April 7), click here

Source: TRTWorld and agencies