At least 39 people have been killed and more than 100 wounded in a Russian missile strike on a railway station in eastern Ukraine as three senior European officials arrived in Kyiv and the EU adopted a fifth round of sanctions to punish Russia for its unprovoked invasion.
Ukraine’s state railway company said two Russian rockets had struck the station in Kramatorsk which is used to evacuate civilians from areas under bombardment by Russian forces.
It came as European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, Josep Borrell, the European Union’s top diplomat, and Slovak Prime Minister Eduard Heger were due to hold talks in Kyiv with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.
Heger said on Twitter that they had come with trade and humanitarian aid proposals for Zelenskiy and his government.
Part of that, Heger said, was “to offer options for transporting grains, including wheat.” Ukraine is a major world wheat supplier and Russia’s invasion is creating shortages, notably in the Middle East.
He added that the three want to help Ukraine on its path toward closer ties with the EU by “creating a ReformTeam.”
It’s the first visit by Western leaders since the alleged Russian atrocities in Bucha emerged earlier this week.
The visit comes as the EU announced on April 8 it had adopted a fifth round of sanctions against Russia, including bans on the import of coal, wood, chemicals and other products.
The measures also prevent many Russian vessels and trucks from accessing the EU, further crippling trade, and will ban all transactions with four Russian banks, including VTB.
Live Briefing: Russia’s Invasion Of Ukraine
RFE/RL’s Live Briefing gives you all of the major developments on Russia’s invasion, how Kyiv is fighting back, the plight of civilians, and Western reaction. For all of RFE/RL’s coverage of the war, click here.
The three European leaders set off by train early on April 8 from the small southern Polish town of Przemysl, just 13 kilometers from the Ukrainian border. The airspace over Ukraine is closed because of the war.
In mid-March the prime ministers of Poland, Slovenia, and the Czech Republic traveled to Kyiv by train. Last week, European Parliament President Roberta Metsola visited the city.
The West has tightened sanctions on Russia following international condemnation of apparent executions of civilians in the streets of Bucha, a northern suburb of Kyiv.
Local officials say more than 300 people were killed by Russian forces in Bucha, and around 50 of them were executed. Moscow denies the accusations.
German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier has said a war crimes tribunal against Russian President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov should be established amid the growing evidence of alleged atrocities.
Speaking in an interview with the German magazine Der Spiegel published on April 8, Steinmeier said that “anyone who has responsibility for these crimes will have to explain themselves.”
“That includes soldiers. That includes military commanders. And of course also those that have the political responsibility,” he added.
Zelenskiy said late on April 7 that the situation in Borodyanka — another town northwest of Kyiv retaken from Russian forces — is “significantly more dreadful” than in Bucha.
Video from Borodyanka showed search-and-rescue teams using heavy equipment to dig through the rubble of a building that collapsed. Hundreds of people were feared buried.
On the battlefield, Ukraine says after withdrawing from Kyiv’s outskirts, Russia is regrouping to try to gain full control of the eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, which have been partly held by Kremlin-backed separatists since 2014.
The besieged southern port of Mariupol, where the mayor said over 100,000 people were still trapped, was also a target.
The British Defense Ministry said on April 8 that Russian shelling of cities in the east and south continues and Russian forces have advanced further south from the city of Izyum, which remains under their control.
Ukraine said it aimed to establish up to 10 humanitarian corridors to evacuate trapped civilians on April 8, but civilians trying to flee besieged Mariupol will have to use private vehicles.
The 10 planned safe corridors announced by Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk were all in southern and eastern Ukraine.
Meanwhile, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg told BBC radio that NATO countries were ready to supply weapons to Ukraine for the fight against Russia for years to come, if necessary.
He said he could not comment on weapons systems supplied by individual NATO countries, but said that the impact of the weapons that had already been delivered to Ukraine was clear to see.
“Allies are ready to provide even more and also more modern and heavier weapons,” he said.