What is Tochka-U? Old but lethal Russian missile system used in attack on crowded Kramatorsk station

Ukrainian officials said there were about 4,000 people at the railway station at the time of the strike


                            What is Tochka-U? Old but lethal Russian missile system used in attack on crowded Kramatorsk station
Ukrainian OTR-21 Tochka missiles during the Independence Day parade in Kyiv, 2008 (Ukrainian Military)
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At least 39 people were killed and nearly 90 wounded in a Tochka-U missile strike on a crowded train station in eastern Ukraine on Friday morning, April 8, as many tried to flee the war-torn nation.

The station appeared to be one of the main points of evacuation in the city of Kramatorsk, which had been jammed in recent days with people rushing to safer areas in the west. Ukrainian officials said there were about 4,000 people at the railway station at the time of the strike. Photos from the tragic incident showed victims laying on the ground, surrounded by debris and luggage.

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As the Russian offensive enters its seventh week, the New York Times noted how the strike appeared to "continue a Russian approach of targeting civilians and infrastructure that has devastated cities such as Kharkiv and Mariupol, intended to demoralize populations." However, the Russian Defense Ministry has shifted the blame on Ukraine, saying reports accusing Vladimir Putin's forces of the Kramatorsk attack is a "provocation." The ministry said in a statement, "All the claims by representatives of the Kyiv 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 Armed Forces had no fire tasks and planned none in the town of Kramatorsk on April 8."

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WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT



 

Meanwhile, Ukrainian officials have warned that the window for civilians to flee the crisis is narrowing as Russian troops regroup for a major push in the east. Ukraine's railway service announced that evacuations from the east of the country would continue from nearby Sloviansk following Friday's attack. Meanwhile, President Volodymyr Zelensky accused Moscow of “cynically destroying the civilian population.”

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What is Tochka-U?

The Tochka-U is reportedly an upgraded version of the Soviet Tochka precision tactical missile system that is specifically designed to strike smaller-size targets deep in the enemy's defense. The system constitutes a one-stage missile that can be guided along its entire flight path and has a range of anywhere between 15 km to 120 km. The Tochka-U ballistic missile is notably mounted on a 6x6 truck and is considered ideal for targeting buildings sheltering personnel and armament. The Soviet-era missile was first deployed in the 1980s, according to TASS.

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As the Russia-Ukraine conflict enters day 44, Moscow has previously accused Ukraine of firing the same missile on March 15, when fragments from the shot-down projectile ripped through eastern Donetsk, killing at least 23. Russia dubbed the strike a "war crime" against the residents of Donbas, but Ukraine has denied firing into the disputed city. However, Ukrainian army spokesperson Leonid Matyukhin in a later statement laid the blame on Russia, saying "it is unmistakably Russian rocket or another ammunition."

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Russian officials have claimed the Tochka-U missile system is old and that the Russian army hasn't used them since late 2019, when all their missile and artillery units were allegedly rearmed with Iskander tactical missile systems. On the other hand, the Ukrainian military currently operates anywhere from 38 to 90 Tochka-U systems and is armed with several hundred such missiles.

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