Russian attack kills 25 civilians on Ukraine’s Independence Day, Kyiv says

  • Two strikes in the small eastern town of Chaplyne, official says
  • 25 dead at station, passenger train set on fire
  • Rockets hit area north of Kyiv, no casualties reported
  • The August 24 holiday marked the 1991 independence from Soviet rule

KYIV, Aug 25 (Reuters) – A Russian attack killed 25 civilians when missiles hit a train station and residential area in eastern Ukraine, officials in the capital Kyiv said, as the country marked the Independence Day under heavy bombardment.

The death toll rose from an initially reported 22 after three more bodies were found in the rubble of the town of Chaplyne at the end of rescue operations, Ukrainian presidential aide Kyrylo Tymoshenko said on Thursday.

The Vyshgorod region, directly north of Kyiv, was also attacked with rockets, but no casualties were reported, regional official Olexiy Kuleba said on the Telegram channel.

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Missile strikes and artillery shelling of frontline cities, such as Kharkiv, Mykolaiv, Nikopol and Dnipro, followed President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s warnings of the risk of “repugnant Russian provocations” ahead of the 31st anniversary of the independence from the Moscow-dominated Soviet regime.

August 24 also marked six months since Russian forces invaded Ukraine, sparking the most devastating conflict in Europe since World War II.

As rescue operations wrapped up in Chaplyne, residents of this small town, located about 145 km (90 miles) west of Russian-occupied Donetsk, wept for their loved ones amid the rubble of their homes. destroyed.

Local resident Sergiy lost his 11-year-old son in the strike. “We looked for him out there in the ruins, and he was lying here. Nobody knew he was here. Nobody knew,” he said, crouching down beside her covered body.

The Russian Defense Ministry had no immediate comment on the attack. Speaking in Uzbekistan, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu repeated that Moscow had deliberately slowed down what he calls a “special military operation” in Ukraine to avoid civilian casualties. Read more

Russia denies targeting civilians. He also said that the railway infrastructure is a legitimate target since it is used to supply Ukraine with Western weapons.

Commenting on the attack, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Twitter: “The Russian missile strike on a train station full of civilians in Ukraine fits a pattern of atrocities. We will continue, with partners around the world, to support Ukraine and hold Russian officials to account.”

Wednesday’s public holiday celebrations were canceled but many Ukrainians marked the occasion by wearing embroidered shirts typical of the national costume.

Ukraine declared independence from the disintegrating Soviet Union in August 1991 and its people voted overwhelmingly for independence in a referendum in December.

Air raid sirens sounded at least seven times in Kyiv during the day, although there were no attacks. Ukrainian authorities said air raid warnings were sounded 189 times across the country on Wednesday, more than at any other time in the six-month conflict.

Zelenskiy and his wife, Olena, joined religious leaders for a service in Kyiv’s 11th-century Saint Sophia Cathedral and laid flowers in front of a memorial to fallen soldiers.

The 44-year-old leader said Ukraine would take back Russian-occupied areas in eastern Ukraine and the Crimean Peninsula, which Russia annexed in 2014.

AWAY FROM THE FRONT LINES

Ukrainian forces shot down a Russian drone in the Vinnytsia region while Russian missiles landed in the Khmelnytskyi region, regional authorities said, both west of Kyiv and hundreds of kilometers from the lines of forehead. No damage or casualties were reported.

Citing local sources, public broadcaster Suspilne TV reported early Thursday of explosions near the Antonivsky Bridge over the Dnipro River in the southern Kherson region, a major supply route for Russian troops in the region.

The Southern Ukrainian Military Command also reported missile strikes on the Nova Kakhovka dam at the crossing of the Dnipro River, another important Russian supply line in the Kherson region.

Reuters could not verify the battlefield accounts.

At a UN Security Council session on Wednesday, Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia reiterated Moscow’s reasons for its actions, saying its goal was to “denazify and demilitarize ‘Ukraine to eliminate threats’.” obvious” to Russia’s security.

Moscow’s position has been rejected by Ukraine and the West as a baseless pretext for a war of imperialist conquest.

US President Joe Biden on Wednesday announced nearly $3 billion for the purchase of arms and equipment for Ukraine from Washington, bringing his administration’s total commitment to military aid to more than 13 .5 billion dollars.

Russia has made little progress in recent months after its troops were pushed back from Kyiv in the first weeks of the war.

Ukraine’s top military intelligence official Kyrylo Budanov said on Wednesday that the Russian offensive was slowing down due to low morale and physical fatigue in its ranks, and Moscow’s “depleted” resource base. Read more

Russian forces have seized areas in the south, including those on the Black Sea and Sea of ​​Azov coasts and large swathes of Luhansk and Donetsk provinces that make up the eastern Donbass region.

The war has killed thousands of civilians, forced more than a third of Ukraine’s 41 million people from their homes, left cities in ruins and shaken the global economy, creating shortages of essential food grains and driving up prices Energy.

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Reports from Reuters offices; Written by Cynthia Osterman and Tomasz Janowski; Editing by Lincoln Feast and Gareth Jones

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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