Ukraine round-up: Six weeks of defiance and Pink Floyd reunite for protest song


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Mother clutches a portrait of her soldier son

At least 50 people, including women and children, have been killed when rockets hit a train station in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kramatorsk, where thousands were preparing to flee ahead of an expected major Russian offensive.

Ukraine accused Russia of deliberately targeting civilians, but Russia denied it was behind the attack – instead saying that Kyiv was responsible.

US President Joe Biden – like a number of other Western leaders – put the blame squarely on Russia, accusing it of committing a “horrific atrocity”.

Meanwhile, the UK said it was sending more anti-aircraft and anti-tank missiles to Ukraine.

And Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, visited the town of Bucha, near Kyiv, where bodies of civilians were found lying in the streets after Russia’s withdrawal. “We have seen the cruel face of Putin’s army,” she said.

Let’s start this summary with that attack at Kramatorsk.

Station attack: What we know so far

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WATCH: Burnt-out cars and remains of a missile outside Kramatorsk station

The railway station was hit at about 10: 30 local time (07: 30 GMT) on Friday, Kramatorsk Mayor Oleksandr Honcharenko told the BBC.

He added this happened as the crowds were “waiting for the first train” to be evacuated to safer regions in central and western Ukraine.

Oleksandr Kamyshyn, who heads Ukraine’s Ukrzaliznytsia state railway company, said two rockets struck the area.

Meanwhile, Nathan Mook, an aid worker who saw people crowding at the station, counted between five and 10 explosions: “Two minutes after we had driven by, you feel it before you hear it: the boom, the explosion.”

Ukraine’s prosecutor general’s office later said that nearly 4,000 people – mainly women and children – were at the station at the time.

Six weeks of devastation and defiance

On Day 44 of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the BBC’s Jeremy Bowen took stock of the key battlefield events so far.

Image source, LEE DURANT/BBC

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Ukrainian soldiers mourn at a military funeral

Predictions at the start of a quick Russian victory have been upended by the Ukrainians’ willingness to fight, he says, but the war is settling into a long struggle that could still endanger the wider world.

It is ironic that one of Russia President Vladimir Putin’s arguments for Ukraine to be in Russia’s orbit is that it is not a proper country. His own actions, along with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s well-judged messages as he leads a remarkable feat of mobilisation, are sharpening the national identity of Ukrainians.

Russia suffered a serious defeat around Kyiv and had to pull back. But it has not lost the war, and is grinding out territorial gains in the east and south.

‘Mariupol is a graveyard’

Civilians who have managed to flee Mariupol in recent days have described to the BBC’s Tom Bateman the increasingly desperate situation inside the besieged city, including accounts of bodies buried in shallow graves, looting by Chechen fighters, and starving residents being killed when they ventured out of shelters to find water.

The evacuees’ accounts are emerging as they reach the town of Zaporizhzhia, which is acting as a hub for refugees.

They have risked journeys through Russian and Ukrainian lines that the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) describes as an evacuation “from hell”.

Image source, AFP

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Yuliia, seen here on the left with her mother Tatiana, said people were being buried in the streets of Mariupol

Waiting inside one aid facility was Yuliia, her two daughters and her mother Tatiana. They finally managed to escape the city on Monday.

“There are starving people,” said Yuliia, who spoke to the BBC on condition that her surname was not used, a frequent request from residents still concerned about their safety.

“People are having mental breakdowns. There is a woman we knew who hanged herself. People are being buried in the streets.”

War causes giant leap in global food prices – UN

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Ukraine is usually a major producer of cereals such as maize and wheat

The Ukraine war led to a “giant leap” in food prices last month to another record high, the UN says.

The war has cut off supplies from the world’s biggest exporter of sunflower oil – which means the costs of alternatives have also climbed.

Ukraine is also a major producer of cereals such as maize and wheat, which have risen sharply in price, too.

The UN said “war in the Black Sea region spread shocks through markets for staple grains and vegetable oils”.

The UN Food Prices Index tracks the world’s most-traded food commodities measuring the average prices of cereal, vegetable oil, dairy, meat, and sugar.

Food prices are at their highest since records began 60 years ago according to the index, which jumped nearly 13% in March, following February’s record high.

Pink Floyd reunite for Ukraine protest song

Pink Floyd have reunited to record their first new material in 28 years – a protest song against the Ukraine war.

Hey Hey, Rise Up! features David Gilmour and Nick Mason alongside long-time Floyd bassist Guy Pratt and Nitin Sawhney on keyboards.

But the song is built around a spine-tingling refrain from Ukrainian singer Andriy Khlyvnyuk of the band Boombox.

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Gilmour says the song is a show of “anger at a superpower invading a peaceful nation”.

But it is also intended as a morale booster for the people of Ukraine, and a call “for peace”.

War in Ukraine: More coverage

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Mother clutches a portrait of her soldier son