The railway system is called the “iron road” in Russian and the “ironery” in Ukrainian. “It’s not for nothing that we are called the iron people,” train driver
42, says of Ukraine’s railway workers.
Since Russia launched its full invasion in February, Ukraine has relied on its railway system to evacuate civilians, bring foreign dignitaries to Kyiv and move humanitarian supplies, essential goods, exports and weaponry. “It’s the backbone of the Ukrainian economy,” says
a supervisory board member at Ukrzaliznytsia, or Ukrainian Railways. “It’s the backbone of the Ukrainian state. And in terms of a target, it’s second only to military.”
On June 5, four missiles struck a railcar repair facility in Kyiv. Russia claimed the facility housed military vehicles, but Ukrainian Railways says it was used to fix grain hoppers and other cars for cargo exports. In April a missile struck the railway station in Kramatorsk, in the Donetsk region, as civilians gathered to flee. Some 60 people, including children, were killed. The Russians have targeted bridges, substations and other rail facilities.
The Kyiv School of Economics Institute, which is tallying war destruction, estimates that between Feb. 24 and June 8, Russians inflicted $2.7 billion in damage on the railway infrastructure and rolling stock.
“Some people say railway men are the second…
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