What signal is Russia sending when five train stations in central and western Ukraine were heavily bombed within an hour, just hours after two senior U.S. officials visited Kyiv by train along this railroad?
The Russian Defense Ministry announced on April 25 that Russian Air Force tactical air units destroyed 56 Ukrainian military targets in one day.
These targets included 2 command points, 53 gathering areas for living forces and military equipment, and 1 fuel depot warehouse.
And among the targets bombed by Russian forces that day, the most notable in Western media reports were five railway stations in central and western Ukraine.
"Putin's message to Biden?" The British newspaper Daily Mail said train stations in central and western Ukraine were bombed by Russia today after U.S. Secretary of State Blinken and Defense Secretary Austin took a train to Kyiv.
According to Ukrainian media reports, Russia used missiles to attack train stations in Lviv, Rivne, Venista and Kyiv early on the morning of the 25th, with another station located in the town of Krasne, just 70 miles from the Polish border.
The head of Ukraine's railroad service, Alexander Kameshin, claimed that the Russian bombings on Monday all took place within an hour of each other and caused casualties. But he did not provide further details.
Russian forces bombard Ukrainian targets
"The bombing of a railroad station so close to the Polish border would be seen as a warning from the Kremlin to the West," the Daily Mail said, adding that just hours earlier, Blinken and Austin used the region's railroads to travel to Kyiv and meet with Ukrainian President Dzerensky.
The two U.S. officials' trip to Ukraine was planned under conditions of extreme secrecy for security and other reasons, so Blinken and Austin flew to Poland on a U.S. Air Force cargo plane and were accompanied by a handful of staff from both departments.
The exact route of Blinken and Austin's train trip from Poland to Kyiv was not revealed to the public, but the Krasne train station was located right on the main rail line from Poland to Ukraine. The Russian bombing of this small train station sent a very clear message.
Also, the timing of the bombing could be considered a warning. Blinken and Austin's meeting with Zelenski is thought to have taken place between 10 p.m. and 1 a.m. local time. The two high-ranking American officials then returned to Poland by train.
In response to Blinken and Austin's visit to Ukraine, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Andrei Rudenko said it was too early to talk about how U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Secretary of State Blinken's visit to Kyiv might affect the Russia-Ukraine talks. "Let's see the results of the visit and we'll draw conclusions," he said.
Western media, however, widely believe that Russia is very annoyed by the visit of the top U.S. officials.
"The visit marks the highest-ranking U.S. delegation to Kyiv since war broke out between Russia and Ukraine, much to the Kremlin's embarrassment," the Daily Mail said.
Blinken and Austin's visit - which was announced to the public only after the event - reportedly included face-to-face meetings with Zelensky and more military support to ensure Ukraine "wins the war.
"In terms of Russia's war objectives, Russia has failed and Ukraine has succeeded," Blinken said after the meeting ended and he arrived in Poland.
Blinken and Austin used the visit to announce that the United States had approved the sale of $165 million in munitions for the war in Ukraine and provided more than $300 million in military financing.
In the Russian account, the five train stations were not specifically named, although they are likely to be among the "53 areas of concentration of living forces and military equipment. As you can see, the Russians used the bombing of the train stations as a warning to the U.S. side but left it open.
This is a double whammy. These train stations are also likely to be important gathering areas for NATO weapons shipments to Ukraine, which would have been a priority target. Recently, Russia has been increasingly targeting these logistical supply lines located in the rear.
CNN said Russian forces attacked five railroad stations in central and western Ukraine Monday morning as part of "systematic destruction of railroad infrastructure. They have become an important part of the country's war machine, as they deliver necessary supplies to the front through the railroad system.
On the same day, Russia also destroyed an oil refinery in Kremenchuk, central Ukraine, as well as the fuel depot there.
But two Russian oil depots in Bryansk also exploded - one at a military base that provides logistical supplies to Donbas forces, and the other at a pipeline connection to Europe. Bryansk is the logistical hub for Russian troops fighting Ukraine in the Donbas.
The war is descending into a phase of ever-increasing battlefield depletion, with logistical bases on both sides facing tests.