Suspicious Russian claim to missiles that killed fleeing civilians


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On April 8, 2022, Ukrainian authorities and news reports said a rocket attack on a train station in the eastern Ukraine’s Kramatorsk city killed at least 52 people, including five children.

Ukraine said Russian forces deliberately attacked the station, an evacuation center for civilians fleeing the war, with two ballistic missiles. About 100 people were injured, according to news reports and Ukrainian officials.

Russia quickly denied responsibility and blamed Ukraine.

“All statements by representatives of the nationalist regime in Kiev about the ‘missile attack’ that Russia allegedly carried out on April 8 on the railway station in the city of Kramatorsk are provocative and absolutely untrue,” Russia’s defense ministry said in a report. The New York Times.

As evidence, the ministry claimed that only Ukrainian forces are using the Tochka-U ballistic missiles allegedly used in the attack.

“We emphasize that tactical Tochka-U missiles, fragments of which were found near the Kramatorsk train station and published by eyewitnesses, are only used by the Ukrainian armed forces,” the defense ministry said.

A pro-Russian militia leader in the Donbas said the same thing.

“I underline, it is a missile, Tochka-U, we do not have such weaponry in our republics, Donetsk and Luhansk, and in the Russian Federation in the army they do not have it either,” Eduard Basurin, deputy head of the Donetsk militia, Russian channel TV1 told.

This is probably incorrect. There are indications that Russian convoys transported Tochka-U systems to Belarus. And Russia is reflexively blaming Ukraine for attacks on civilians, despite the abundant evidence to the contrary.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy blamed the Kramatorsk attack on Russia-fired Tochka-U missiles. The Tochka, also known as the SS-21, is a single-warhead mobile system that can be launched in ballistic or cruise modes, according to a report by the Center for Strategic International Studies Missile Threats published in March. The weapons were developed by the Soviet Union in the 1970s.

In 2018, the Russian Defense Ministry proudly advertised the Tochka-U system in a YouTube video:

“It is believed that Russia currently owns 300 TEL . [launch] vehicles and 310 warheads for all versions of the Tochka” and that Ukraine has about 500 Tochka-U versions, a model introduced in 1989, the center reported.

The Russian state newspaper AIF reported in 2017 that the Russian army commissioned the Tochka-U in 1989. A website affiliated with the Russian Armed Forces, “Voennoe Obozrenie,” praised the Tochka-U system for its reliability and compared it to the Kalashnikov, Russia’s famous automatic assault rifle.

According to open source reports, the Russian military has used Tochka-U missiles in Chechnya in the 1990s, in Syria, in Ukraine several times since the start of the war in 2014, and also on the first day of its full-scale invasion on February 24. . †

On that day, fragments of a rocket that hit a hospital in the village of Vugledar in eastern Ukraine, killing four people and injuring more than ten, were identified as a Tochka-U system launched by the Russian military. , the Twitter account said. Ukrainian weapon tracker

Ukraine also reportedly used Tochka-U systems in Donbas in 2014 and in March as part of the new Russian offensive.

An open-source investigative news site, the Belarusian Hajun Project, has twice published videos on March 5 and 30 of Russian military columns marked with a letter “V” heading for the Ukrainian border. first column contained “at least 30” and the second “at least 8 Tochka-U” systemsthe site tweeted.

Russia’s deployment of about 30 Tochka-U systems on Belarus’ borders near Ukraine was also reported by Telegram users on March 5.

At the Kramatorsk strike, photos show a piece of debris from a large rocket on which the words “for children” were written in Russian.

Ukrainian authorities said about 4,000 people were waiting to be evacuated at the station when the rockets hit on the morning of April 8.

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A photo provided by the Donetsk Regional State Administration shows police and rescue workers on the scene after a rocket attack on the train station in Kramatorsk, Donbass region, eastern Ukraine, April 8, 2022. (Anatolii STEPANOV/AFP)

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A photo provided by the Donetsk Regional State Administration shows police and rescue workers on the scene after a rocket attack on the train station in Kramatorsk, Donbass region, eastern Ukraine, April 8, 2022. (Anatolii STEPANOV/AFP)

In a report about the incident, the Digital Forensic Research Lab of the Atlantic Council, a US watchdog site, reported that:

Russian Telegram station Siloviki prematurely released information that Russians are ‘working on a cluster of forces of Ukraine at Kramatorsk train station’ and fourth casualties among Ukrainian fighters.
“They edited it a few minutes after the initial message, presumably after reports of civilian casualties increased. In the edited message, they said when the Kramatorsk train station was hit, ‘It may have been a Tochka-U. [missile] that use the armed forces of Ukraine.’
“Both messages were subsequently deleted, but the original message and the edited message were archived as a forwarded message on another pro-Kremlin channel.”

Other teams of investigative journalists also reported that Russia’s denials probably false† The Conflict Intelligence Team (CIT), a group of Russian journalists, said missiles that hit the Kramatorsk station likely came from the southeast, where Russia’s Tochka-U systems are located.

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