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Samantha Putterman
By Samantha Putterman April 18, 2022

No evidence that Ukraine attacked a train station in one of its cities

If Your Time is short

  • There’s no credible evidence that Ukraine was behind the April 8 attack at the Kramatorsk train station. A video used to bolster this claim is fake — it did not come from the BBC.

  • The claim has largely been spread by pro-Kremlin accounts following reports of civilian casualties and contradict earlier Russian posts that initially took credit for the bombing. 

  • The Tochka-U missile used in the attack, and the serial number on it, isn’t proof that it came from the Ukrainian army. Several news reports, legitimate photos and videos show that Russia has used these missile systems recently.

On April 8, at least 59 people, including seven children, were killed after a missile strike hit a railway station in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kramatorsk. The attack came as thousands were attempting to flee heavy Russian shelling across the region. 

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy initially said at least 300 people were wounded in the strike.

"People (were) crowded, waiting for the trains to be evacuated to the safe territory" at the station, Zelenskyy said in an address to Finland's parliament. "They hit these people. There are witnesses, there are videos, there are remnants of the missiles and dead people … Why do they need to hit civilians with missiles? Why this cruelty that the world has witnessed in Bucha and other cities liberated by the Ukrainian army?"

As Zelenskyy condemned the attack, some started to spread rumors that it was Ukraine, not Russia, that carried it out. 

This unsubstantiated rumor has been pushed by Russian state media and Kremlin-linked social media accounts, and was bolstered by a supposed BBC News story that placed the blame on Ukraine.

"Very interesting how the train station was a war crime until we realized Ukraine did it," reads a screenshot of a tweet that was shared on Facebook on April 13.

These false claims are amplified by a conspiratorial video that appears to show the BBC’s logo and watermark.

But the video isn't legitimate. It doesn’t appear on the BBC’s official social media accounts, website or YouTube channel. The news organization confirmed it’s fake and said it was working to have it removed.

Claims blaming Ukraine by Russian-state accounts fall short on evidence and contradict earlier posts taking credit for the strike. There is evidence of Russian military forces using the same kind of missile that hit the train station. 

Posts promoting this rumor were flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)

The fake video claiming to be from the BBC

The one-minute-27-second clip shows several graphic scenes, including the site of the bombing with dead people on the ground and a shot of the Tochka-U missile found nearby.

"The serial number of the Tochka-U missile is identical to the series of missiles from the arsenal of the 13th AFU missile brigade," text overlaid on the video says. "The same type of missiles and the same serial number were previously fired by the Ukrainian army at the cities of Khartsyzsk, Logvinovo, Berdyansk, and Melitopol." 

The video also claims that Ukrainian media stopped reporting on the bombing after the missile factory numbers were revealed.

The video was circulated by pro-Kremlin accounts on Telegram and appeared in multiple Twitter posts before most were taken down by the platform. 

The BBC did not report that Ukraine was behind the Kramatorsk attack. Inconsistencies with the placement of logos, location tags and style — like the lack of background commentary — are signs that the video wasn’t created by the news group.

"We are aware of a fake video with BBC News branding suggesting Ukraine was responsible for last week’s missile attack on Kramatorsk train station," the news organization said in an April 13 statement on its Twitter account. "The BBC is taking action to have the video removed. We urge people not to share it and to check stories on the BBC News website."

How claims of Ukrainian involvement fall short

At a background briefing on April 8, the U.S. Defense Department said that the Kramatorsk bombing was carried out by Russian troops likely using a short-range ballistic missile known as an SS-21. 

"Obviously, we are not buying the denial by the Russians that they weren't responsible," said someone only identified by the Defense Department as "a senior defense official." "I would note that they originally claimed a successful strike, and then only retracted it when there were reports of civilian casualties. So it's our full expectation that this was a Russian strike." 

German journalist Julian Röpcke tweeted that Kremlin-affiliated media initially reported that Russia attacked the train station, but then blamed Ukraine after learning of the casualties. His tweet included screenshots of what he said were Telegram posts boasting about the attack.

The Russian Defence Ministry has since denied using the Tochka-U missile, yet military analysts say that images and videos on social media refute those claims. News reports and an Amnesty International report have also pointed out recent instances of Russia using the missile system.

Russian media also claimed that the serial number on the missile proves it came from the Armed Forces of Ukraine. The markings on the rocket discovered at the scene of the bombing indicate it was a Soviet-era OTR-21 Tochka missile, and the serial number, the same that appears in the fake BBC video — Ш91579 — shows it was produced in the Votkinsk Machine Building Plant, a machine and ballistic missile factory in Russia’s Udmurtia region.

The plant mass-produced missiles in the Soviet era, which were then transported at different times to different countries including Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus and Ukraine, according to reporting by Ukrainian fact-checkers at 

The missile’s serial numbers are unrelated to the country they were shipped to, so Russia’s logic that the number indicates that the missile could only come from Ukraine is flawed. 

Our ruling

Facebook posts claim that Ukraine was responsible for the Kramatorsk train station bombing.

A video used to bolster this rumor is fake. Although the video has a BBC logo, it was not produced by the news organization.

There’s no credible evidence that Ukraine was behind the attack.

The Tochka missile used in the attack, and the serial number on it, isn’t proof that it came from the Ukrainian army. Several news reports, legitimate photos and videos show that Russia has used these missile systems recently. The rumors that Ukraine attacked the train station have largely been spread by pro-Kremlin social media accounts.

We rate this claim False. 

Our Sources

Facebook post, April 13,2022

Axios, Ukraine says death toll reaches 59 in train station bombing, April 14, 2022 

YouTube, Watch in full: President Zelensky addresses Finnish parliament on Ukraine crisis, April 8, 2022 

BBC News, Kramatorsk station attack: What we know so far, Accessed April 16, 2022 

Twitter video post, April 13, 2022 

Twitter, BBC News post, April 13, 2022

BBC News website and YouTube channel, Accessed April 16, 2022

U.S. Department of Defense, Senior Defense Official Holds a Background Briefing, April 8, 2022

Twitter, Julian Röpcke tweet, April 8, 2022

Twitter, Ilya Lozovsky tweet, April 8, 2022 

Twitter, Conflict Intelligence Team tweet, March 6, 2022 

Amnesty International, Russian military commits indiscriminate attacks during the invasion of Ukraine, Feb. 25, 2022

Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance, OTR-21 Tochka (SS-21 Scarab), February 2017

Center for Strategic and International Studies Missile Defense Project, OTR-21 Tochka (SS-21), updated March 31, 2022, Fake: Serial Number Confirms Kramatorsk Train Station Hit by Ukrainian Tochka U Missile, April 10, 2022

Newsweek, Fact Check: Did BBC Report Blame Ukraine for Kramatorsk Station Bombing?, April 13, 2022

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No evidence that Ukraine attacked a train station in one of its cities

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