Lviv, Ukraine (CNN) – Ukrainian officials said Friday that at least 50 people, including five minors, were killed after Russian forces launched a missile attack on a train station in Kramatorsk, eastern Ukraine, that was used by civilians trying to flee the fighting.
Pavlo Kirilenko, head of the Donetsk Regional Military Administration, where the attack took place, said 98 wounded, 16 children, 46 women and 36 men were taken to local hospitals.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said earlier that nearly 300 people were wounded in the attack.
In a speech to the Finnish parliament on Friday, Zelensky said that “the Russian army attacked the railway station,” adding: “There are witnesses, there are videos, there are missile remnants and dead people.”
“People (were) huddled together, waiting for trains to be evacuated to a safe area,” Zelensky added. “Why do they need to hit civilians with missiles? Why such cruelty that the world witnessed in Bucha and other cities liberated by the Ukrainian army?” Zelensky asked lawmakers.
In a statement, local police said the rockets hit a waiting room where “hundreds of people were waiting for the evacuation train”.
“This is further evidence that Russia brutally and barbarically kills Ukrainian civilians, with only one goal – to kill,” the mayor of Kramatorsk said in a statement.
In the past two weeks, about 8,000 people per day have come to the station for evacuation, the mayor said. There were up to 4,000 people at the time of the missile strike.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba described the attack as a “premeditated massacre”.
“The Russians knew that the Kramatorsk train station was full of civilians waiting to be evacuated,” he said.
The Russian Defense Ministry issued a statement on Friday calling the missile attack a “provocation”, in a statement reflecting recent denials of the indiscriminate killing of civilians in the suburb of Bucha.
“All statements made by representatives of the Kyiv nationalist regime about the alleged “missile attack” of Russia on April 8 on the Kramatorsk railway station are provocations and do not correspond to reality at all,” the notice says.
“On April 8, the Russian Armed Forces did not carry out or plan any artillery bombardment in the city of Kramatorsk. We confirm that the Tochka-U tactical missiles, the remains of which were found near the Kramatorsk railway station and published by eyewitnesses, are: used only by the troops Ukrainian armed forces.
Ukrainian forces have the Soviet-designed Tochka missile in their inventory, but it has also been used by Russian and separatist forces in the past.
The Russian military and senior officials have widely denied attacks on civilians, recently claiming, without evidence, that the massacre of civilians in Bucha was orchestrated. The killing of civilians during the Russian occupation of the city has been extensively documented.
The eastern city of Kramatorsk was one of the first places to be targeted by Russian military strikes when the invasion of Ukraine began on February 24. Ihnachenko said Ukrainians have been using the train station since the end of February to evacuate the area.
“The Russians know that there are thousands of people (at the train station) every day,” he said.
Two missiles hit the station, according to the head of the Ukrainian national railway network, Oleksandr Kamyshin. Pavlo Kirilenko, head of the Donetsk Regional Military Administration, said the Russian military used Iskander short-range ballistic missiles.
CNN International anchor Christiane Amanpour said the attack was reminiscent of an attack in a market in Sarajevo during the Bosnian war, where “ordinary civilians were killed going about their daily lives.”
Amanpour said such attacks on civilians tend to bolster Western resolve and could prompt the European Union to enact more sanctions against Russia. Brussels already agreed Five rounds of sanctions against Russia since its invasion of Ukraine.
The head of EU diplomacy, Josep Borrell, denounced the “indiscriminate attack”, in what EU President Charles Michel called “appalling”.
“This is a new attempt to block the escape routes of those fleeing this senseless war and to cause human suffering,” Borrell said.
Borrell and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen are scheduled to meet President Zelensky this week in Kyiv.
The attack comes as Russian forces prepare for a massive operation in eastern Ukraine to take control of the disputed Donbass region, according to Ukrainian authorities.
Donbass is home to the so-called Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics, two separate regions that were recognized as independent by Russian President Vladimir Putin shortly before Russia invaded Ukraine.
For nearly eight years, the two regions have been the scene of a low-intensity war between Russian-backed separatists and Ukrainian forces. More than 14,000 people were killed in the fighting, and Kyiv is now preparing for more casualties.
Kuleba, Ukraine’s foreign minister, said the “Battle of Donbass” was already underway and the fighting there would be a reminder of the devastating battles of World War II, when the Moscow offensive could involve “thousands of tanks, armored vehicles, aircraft and artillery.” “.
British intelligence estimates that Russian forces have “completely withdrawn” from northern Ukraine to Belarus and Russia, and many of them can be transferred to eastern Ukraine to fight in the Donbass. The Ukrainian military also says it saw a build-up of Russian troops in the east.
CNN’s Joshua Berlinger, Julia Presnyakova, Evan Watson, and Kristina Bondarenko contributed to this report.