A missile that exploded near a Ukrainian railway station, which officials claim killed at least 39 people, had the words ‘for’ and ‘children’ painted on it in Russian.
Up to 4,000 people – believed to be largely women and children – were at Kramatorsk station on Friday morning when the blast hit.
The grammar of the words emblazoned on the side of the mangled missile means the translation from Russian is ‘for what has been done to the children’.
The rail station had been packed in recent days as thousands of people sought to flee eastern Ukraine amid fears of a Russian offensive.
The Russian Defence Ministry has denied targeting the station, but Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy accused Kremlin forces of “cynically destroying the civilian population”.
Station packed with civilians fleeing war in the east
The city is a part of the Donetsk region controlled by the Ukrainian government, and the station was being used as an evacuation point.
Sky News correspondent John Sparks, reporting from the scene outside the station, said 39 people were killed in the missile strike, with estimates for the number of people injured ranging between 100 and 300 individuals.
He continued: “What we think has happened is that it has exploded in the air above this area because it has distributed explosives throughout this area in multiple locations, seemingly randomly.
“Everybody knows this was a train station… everybody knows that it has been used over the last couple of days to get tens of thousands of people in eastern Ukraine out of here, and they come here, they come to this station because getting the train is the safest way to get out of eastern Ukraine.”
Russian lettering on side of wrecked missile
Reporting live for Sky News, Mr Sparks pointed to what he said looked like a “ballistic missile” lying on the ground behind him.
The writing on it is Russian and the words translate to ‘for’ and ‘children’.
Grammatically, the way ‘for’ has been written means the translation from Russian is ‘for what has been done to the children’.
Four children are among those who died in Friday morning’s explosion, he added.
The Kremlin has been suggesting that Ukrainian forces have been killing children in the Donbas region, without any evidence.
Governor of the Donetsk region, Pavlo Kyrylenko, said: “The ‘Rashists’ (‘Russian fascists’) knew very well where
they were aiming and what they wanted: they wanted to sow panic and fear, they wanted to take as many civilians as possible”.
Russia denies carrying out strike
The Kremlin has denied Russian involvement in the attack on Kramatorsk railway station.
The Russian Defence Ministry claimed the missile was a type only used by Ukraine’s military, state news agency RIA reported.
Speaking to reporters on a conference call, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said the Russian armed forces had no
missions scheduled for Kramatorsk.
UK defence secretary Ben Wallace said “precision missiles aimed at people trying to seek humanitarian shelter” were used in the attack, which appeared to be carried out by Russia.
“What we are seeing is a criminal endeavour on a free and sovereign country, and Britain and Romania and other NATO allies won’t let that happen,” he added
Foreign Secretary Liz Truss warned Russia that targeting civilians is a war crime and said she was appalled by the reports from Kramatorsk.