The missile that killed at least 50 people and injured more than 100 was painted in the colors of the Russian Federation, an eyewitness to the attack told Soldier of Fortune.
“The missile was green, and our blood is red,” said Olena Klymenko, who told Soldier of Fortune she was at the Kramatorsk railway station in eastern Ukraine on Friday when the missile hit.
Two rockets struck the railway stations through which scores of civilians had fled the conflict zone in Donbas, Ukrainian Railways said in a statement. Thousands of people were at the station when the attack occurred, officials said.
Military experts identified the remnants of one rocket as being a Soviet-era Tochka-U missile. The rocket was inscribed with white paint, in the Russian language: “For our children.”
International reaction was swift against Russia for launching the attack. Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelenskyy condemned the strike.
“Lacking the strength and courage to stand up to us on the battlefield, they are cynically destroying the civilian population,” Zelenskyy said in a statement. “This is an evil that has no limits. And if it is not punished, it will never stop.”
Images from the scene depict bloody carnage, with bodies lying where they fell.
“I will never in my life forget the screams of the mothers crying for their children,” said Klymenko, 35, who spoke to Soldier of Fortune via Signal, the secure phone app. “Thank God my children already are safe. They were not there when this happened.”
Moscow acknowledged that the attack occurred, but denied claims that it was responsible.
“All the claims by representatives of the Kiev nationalist regime that Russia allegedly carried out a ‘missile attack’ on April 8 against the railway terminal in Kramatorsk are a provocation and completely have nothing to do with reality,” the Russian Defense Ministry said, according to the state-run news agency, Tass. “The Russian Armed Forces had no fire tasks and planned none in the town of Kramatorsk on April 8.”
Ukraine has similar missiles, Moscow said. The missile remnants depicted in images, however, are painted green, whereas the Ukrainian versions are painted gray.
Those who were present during the attack described horror while trying to flee the conflict zone.
“I’m looking for my husband. He was here. I can’t reach him,” a woman told AFP.
Another woman said: “I was in the station. I heard like a double explosion. I rushed to the wall for protection. Then I saw people covered in blood entering the station and bodies everywhere on the ground.”
Klymenko told Soldier of Fortune she left her suitcase of clothing behind at the station.
“I have too many memories burned in my head,” she said. “I do not need a physical reminder. Who knows. Maybe someone else can use my clothes.”
Moscow signalled late last month that it would shift its military operations to focus on eastern Ukraine.