Russia’s strategy of attacking Ukrainian train stations is just a small part of Putin’s campaign to crush Ukraine and turn it into a vassal state. The numerous attacks last month seemed to have had the goal of damaging Ukrainian infrastructure. On May 10 alone, six railway facilities were targeted. Before that were the politically-motivated attacks of April 25. Within hours of the departure of US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin from Kyiv, five railway stations and facilities were attacked in central and western Ukraine.
Other train bombings have been ruthless attacks on civilians. The destruction of the Kramatorsk station on April 8th reminded me of another such attack in the former Leningrad during World War II. On a November night in 1941 German bombs fell on Finland Station, famous as the site of Lenin’s triumphal 1917 return to the city.
This horrific attack is reimagined in my novel, Lost Souls of Leningrad, seen through the eyes of a young Soviet soldier. The bombs struck trains full of civilians attempting to reach the shore of Lake Ladoga to cross to safety beyond the German blockade. They were frail, weak from starvation, hoping to escape through the last door out of Leningrad. Hundreds of lives were snuffed out in a few minutes of terror.
Not so different from April 8, 2022, when civilians tried to flee Kramatorsk, Ukraine. Under bombardment, filled with fear for the next steps the enemy might take, horrified by the slaughter that’s been unearthed in Bucha and a host of other places, ordinary Ukrainians gathered at their town’s station to escape. Instead, dozens of elderly civilians, women, and children died in the Russian attack. The Russian words “for the children” written on one missile. Indeed.
Vladimir Putin knows the history of his hometown, the former Leningrad. Yet he has adopted the tactics of Nazi Germany in pursuing his illegitimate aims in Ukraine.
Who’s the fascist now?