Today so far
- A missile strike on Kramatorsk railway station in eastern Ukraine has left at least 30 people dead and more than 100 wounded, according to reports from Ukraine’s state train company. The mayor of Kramatorsk said there were 4,000 people, most of them elderly, women and children at the time of the attack. Russia has denied it was responsible.
- Ukraine has announced that today it is aiming to open 10 humanitarian corridors for civilian evacuations. Once again, civilians hoping to escape from Mariupol will have to use their own vehicles – there will be no convoy of buses.
- The Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, said the situation in the town of Borodianka was “much worse” than in nearby Bucha.
- The Kremlin has admitted suffering “significant losses” of troops since Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine, in a rare admission of how badly the war has gone. In an interview with Sky News, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov asked whether the war had amounted to a humiliation for Russia given the number of troops lost. He replied: “We have significant losses of troops. And it’s a huge tragedy for us.”
- Russian forces have now fully withdrawn from Ukraine’s north to Belarus and Russia, the UK’s ministry of defence has said. “At least some of these forces will be transferred to East Ukraine to fight in the Donbas,” the report added.
- Russia says it has destroyed a training centre for foreign mercenaries in Ukraine, north of Odesa, without providing evidence.
- Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Volodymyr Zelenskiy, said any temporary truce with Russia would just be a war postponed for the future, and that Ukraine is working on the possibility of evacuating civilians from Mariupol by sea.
- The Ukrainian prime minister, Denys Shmyhal, said this year’s grain harvest was likely to be 20% less than last year because of a reduced sowing area after Russia’s invasion.
- Vadym Prystaiko, Ukraine’s ambassador to the UK, invited Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov to come to Bucha to see for himself “if he has stomach to face these people” after Peskov denied Russian troops had committed any atrocities there. Ukraine is investigating 5,149 alleged cases of war crimes committed by Russian forces, the prosecutor’s office has revealed.
- Prystaiko also tried to reassure people that Ukraine would investigate any claims of war crimes against its troops, saying “We’re making this very clear to all our soldiers that there are some limits. Τhe military are fighting. There are some limits. And each and every incident will be investigated.”
- The president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, and EU representative Josep Borrell are on their way to Kyiv. Von der Leyen shared a photo of herself stepping off a Ukrainian train alongside the caption “looking forward to Kyiv”.
- The UK has added the Russian president Vladimir Putin’s daughters to its sanctions list, along with the daughter of Russia’s foreign minister Sergei Lavrov.
- UK prime minister Boris Johnson is set to meet the German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in London later today as they look to discuss how to help European countries wean themselves off Russian gas
- The UK’s home office says that 12,000 people had arrived in the UK under the Ukraine visa schemes as of Tuesday.
- Nobel Prize winning newspaper editor Dmitry Muratov says he was attacked on a train in Russia on Thursday by an assailant who poured red paint on him.
- In diplomatic developments, Poland’s ambassador to Russia has been summoned to the Russian foreign ministry. Japan has announced that it is expelling eight Russian diplomats, and Montenegro has ordered the expulsion of four Russian diplomats
That is it from me, Martin Belam, for now. I will be back later. I am handing you over to Léonie Chao-Fong for the next few hours.
Kramatorsk mayor: 4,000 people were at Kramatorsk train station when it was struck
Reuters is quoting the mayor of Kramatorsk saying that about 4,000 people, most of them elderly, women and children, were at the railway station when it was hit by Russian rockets.
Russia’s defence ministry has just issued a denial via the RIA news agency that it attacked the station.
It is currently believed that at least 30 people were killed and 100 people wounded, according to figures issued by Ukraine’s state railway company.
Some images have been arriving over the newswires from the attack on Kramatorsk railyway station in eastern Ukraine.
In this picture, the remains of a rocket with the lettering “for our children” lie on an area of grass near to the station.
This image shows the personal belongings of some of the victims and damage to the station after the attack.
Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, has shared a graphic 10-second clip of the aftermath of the attack on his official Telegram channel.
Reuters reports that Eduard Basurin, the commander of the separatists in Donetsk, has already decried reports of the attack to news agency Tass as a Ukrainian “provocation”.
UK’s home office says 12,000 people have arrived under Ukraine visa schemes
The UK’s home office says that 12,000 people had arrived in the UK under the Ukraine visa schemes as of Tuesday.
About 10,800 people had arrived under the Ukraine family scheme, and 1,200 under the Homes for Ukraine sponsorship scheme, provisional data published on the department’s website shows.
About 79,800 applications have been received for both schemes and 40,900 visas had been granted, the UK government said.
PA Media quotes a pre-recorded interview with the UK home secretary, Priti Patel, which was broadcast on the BBC this morning. She said:
We are an independent third country and we want to give people the status and security of coming to our country along with the warm welcome. Yes, we want to welcome people, we are welcoming people. We have to ensure that they are protected and safeguarded in the United Kingdom as well.
Earlier on Sky News in the UK, the shadow attorney general, Emily Thornberry, criticised the government, saying the home office knew “that it was going to happen”, but then was not prepared for it.
What we’ve done in other cases, we have specialised schemes, so on Hong Kong or Afghanistan, we had special tailored schemes. We should have done the same with Ukraine. But instead we had the home office, kind of putting their fingers in their ears and saying ‘la la la la’. And as people were coming across the border, they were still resisting it. You will remember the Ukrainians being told you can pick fruit if you want to come into the UK. We should have had a proper scheme ready to go.
UK sanctions President Vladimir Putin’s daughters
Britain has added the Russian president Vladimir Putin’s daughters to its sanctions list, mirroring moves by the United States.
Reuters reports an update to the sanctions list announced asset freezes on Katerina Tikhonova and Maria Vorontsova, who were named in US sanctions on Wednesday as Putin’s two adult daughters.
The Foreign Office was also targeting the daughters of the Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, with travel bans and asset freezes.
PA Media quotes a foreign office statement that said: “The lavish lifestyles of the Kremlin’s inner circle will be further targeted from today as the UK sanctions the adult daughters of President Vladimir Putin and his foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov.
“Katerina Vladimirovna Tikhonova and Maria Vladimirovna Vorontsova, the daughters of President Putin, and Yekaterina Sergeyevna Vinokurova, daughter of foreign minister Sergei Lavrov, will be subject to travel bans and asset freezes.”
Nobel Prize winning newspaper editor Dmitry Muratov says he was attacked on a train in Russia on Thursday by an assailant who poured red paint on him.
Muratov said that the incident happened on a train heading from Moscow to Samara. In a post to the Novaya Gazeta Europe’s Telegram channel he said the assailant shouted “Muratov, here’s one for our boys” and that as a result of the assault his eyes “are burning terribly”. He accompanied the post with a selfie taken in the bathroom compartment of a train.
Novaya Gazeta Europe is a newly launched project by the staff at Novaya Gazeta, which was Russia’s leading independent newspaper. It announced 28 March that it was suspending operations for the duration of what it referred to as “the special operation” in Ukraine. That is the term that Russian authorities insist domestic media outlets must use for the war on Ukraine.
The shutdown came after the paper received a second formal warning from the Russian media regulator Roskomnadzor. Novaya Gazeta removed much of its war reporting from its website after Russia passed a law threatening jail terms of up to 15 years for information deemed to be “fake” by Russian authorities.
Longtime editor Muratov shared the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize with Maria Ressa, a journalist from the Philippines. Novaya Gazeta was established by Muratov and colleagues in 1993, and it investigated corruption inside and outside Russia, as well as the long wars in Chechnya. Six of the paper’s reporters and contributors have been murdered for their work. In 2021 Novaya Gazeta said its offices in Moscow had been targeted with a “chemical attack”.
Some diplomatic developments being reported by Reuters here – the Polish foreign ministry says that Poland’s ambassador to Russia has been summoned to the Russian foreign ministry.
On 23 March Poland’s interior minister Mariusz Kaminski said Poland had “expelled 45 Russian spies pretending to be diplomats.” At the time Russia vowed to retaliate.
At the same time, Japan has announced that it is expelling eight Russian diplomats, saying it was in response to Russia’s actions in Ukraine, including the killing of civilians. The eight diplomats included several trade officials but not the ambassador, Mikhail Galuzin, foreign ministry officials said.
AFP, meanwhile, is reporting that Montenegro has ordered the expulsion of four Russian diplomats, citing “violation of diplomatic norms.”
The diplomats have to leave the Balkan nation within a week, the ministry said in a statement, without elaborating further.
The Pobjeda daily newspaper reported that the diplomats were expelled over their “subversive activities,” quoting a government source as saying that a “red line has been crossed.”
Podgorica had previously expelled one Russian diplomat after Russia invaded Ukraine in February.
A little more from Vadym Prystaiko, Ukraine’s ambassador to the UK. He was asked on Sky News earlier this morning how optimistic he was for an end to the war. He said:
We’re making this, we’re trying to build up a very, very uneasy very, very difficult compromise. And so many Ukrainians are not happy with the attempts of the government to find some ground with Russia. People, in most of the cases, don’t even understand how can we sit at the table with those who are just killing each and every day our people. But that’s the nature of any war. They will have to come to an end and we will.
He was speaking before the news of the attack on Kramatorsk train station broke.
Earlier, Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Ukraine’s president, said any temporary truce with Russia would just be a war postponed for the future, and Ukraine does not need this.
30 people killed, more than 100 wounded in Russian strike on train station in eastern Ukraine – reports
Ukraine’s state railway company say that more than 30 people have been killed and more than 100 were wounded after two Russian rockets struck Kramatorsk railway station in east Ukraine.
The Donetsk governor, Pavlo Kyrylenko, said thousands of civilians were at the station trying to evacuate to safer areas of Ukraine when it was hit.
Reuters report that three trains carrying evacuees were blocked in the same part of Ukraine on Thursday after an airstrike on the line, according to the head of Ukrainian Railways.
‘Dozens’ of civilians feared killed or wounded in Russian missile strike on Kramatorsk train station – Donetsk governor
Reuters is carrying a little more detail on the reported strike on Kramatorsk railway station in east Ukraine. They cite Ukraine’s Donetsk governor, Pavlo Kyrylenko, who says that thousands of civilians were at the station trying to evacuate to safer areas of Ukraine. Quoting police and rescue workers, he said dozens were feared killed or wounded in the rocket strike.
While people in the east of Ukraine are still under Russian bombardment and attempting to flee, the situation is now different in Kyiv, with Russian forces having retreated from the areas around Ukraine’s capital. Consequently people are now queuing at Przemysl station in south-eastern Poland to return to Kyiv. Here are a couple of pictures of the scenes last night.
Two Russian rockets have struck railway station in eastern Ukraine, causing casualties – reports
Two Russian rockets have struck a railway station in Kramatorsk in eastern Ukraine, causing casualties, Ukraine’s state railway company has said. Reuters reports the station is used to evacuate civilians from areas under bombardment from Russian forces.
Three trains carrying evacuees were blocked in the same region of Ukraine on Thursday after an air strike on the line, according to the head of Ukrainian Railways.
The report of the attack has not been independently verified. This is a photograph of scenes at the station yesterday, with people queuing for trains in large numbers. Kramatorsk is in Donetsk Oblast.
Ukraine’s ambassador to the UK, Vadym Prystaiko, was asked on British TV about reports of potential war crimes being committed by Ukrainian forces, referring specifically to a video that appears to show Ukrainian soldiers shooting Russian prisoner of war. He was asked on Sky News what level of committment Ukraine had to investigating itself. He said:
We’re making this very clear to all our soldiers that there are some limits. Τhe military are fighting. There are some limits. And each and every incident will be investigated.
However, he went on to attempt to draw a distinction between the allegations levelled at Russian forces and those made against Ukraine’s military. He said:
On a separate note, we’re talking about civilians, and Russians are killing, raping, just our civilian people. There are differences. All of us hate the war as it is, with people killing each other, but there is a difference, when you kill and shoot at military when you’re fighting, and when you kill innocent civilians.
Also during his television interview in the UK, Vadym Prystaiko, Ukraine’s ambassador to the UK, responded to Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov’s denials that any war crimes have been committed. He described it as “nothing unexpected.”
He said “That’s the first appearance to the wider TV audience on the world stage, but the message is the same. ‘We have to defend ourselves by killing and coming to Ukraine’. At least he recognised that they’re losing soldiers left and right.”
Prystaiko suggested that if Russia was so sure that alleged atrocities in Bucha and elsewhere were faked, there was a simple option:
They can join the international investigation effort. They can come with anybody else and check it. If he has stomach to face these people. He can come to Bucha himself and check it and see it.
Ukraine’s ambassador to the UK calls for Nato ships in the Black Sea
Vadym Prystaiko, Ukraine’s ambassador to the UK, has appeared on Sky News in the UK, and called for Nato and other international forces to play a more active role in the Black Sea, saying:
We have to unlock the Black Sea. Russians block the sea for us. That’s our own sea. We need this for humanitarian assistance to come in Ukraine.
And we actually have it so to allow Ukrainian exports – mostly grains – to go out. We are responsible for a significant chunk of food security around the globe. Many nations in Africa are fed because of Ukrainian grain. And this grain is stuck in our silos, it can’t be exported, it can’t be sent anywhere.
He suggested it would not be such a big shift of current policy, saying:
Nato ships in the Black Sea. They’re welcome in our sea. And there are members of Nato. Three of the main members of Nato [are] within the basin: Turkey, Romania and Bulgaria. So they’re already there. It’s not a big deal. We need to have somebody to reinforce the effort, yes, to come, and be invited to Odesa, all the way in.
Yesterday, Turkey called a videoconference for countries bordering the Black Sea. Turkey said the defence ministers of Bulgaria, Georgia, Poland, Romania and Ukraine joined the call, which discussed mines floating in the sea and regional security. Turkish military diving teams have so far detonated three separate floating naval mines in the Black Sea, while Romania has also defused a stray mine in its waters since the war on Ukraine started.
Russia says it has destroyed a training centre for foreign mercenaries in Ukraine, north of Odesa. The claim has been reported by Russian news agency Tass via Reuters. It has not been independently verified.