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

  • Officials say there were two attacks in the small eastern town of Chaplin
  • 25 killed at railway station, passenger train set on fire
  • Rockets hit the northern part of Kiev, causing no casualties
  • The August 24 holiday marks the 1991 independence from Soviet rule

KYIV, Aug 25 (Reuters) – A Russian strike killed 25 civilians after missiles hit a train station and residential area in eastern Ukraine, officials in the capital Kiev said, as the country celebrated its independence day with a mass shooting.

The death toll rose to 22 after three more bodies were pulled from the rubble in the town of Chaplin, Ukrainian presidential aide Kirill Tymoshenko said on Thursday.

The Vyashgorod region, directly north of Kiev, was also hit by rockets, but there were no casualties, regional official Oleksiy Kuleba said on the Telegram channel.

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Missile attacks and artillery fire on frontline cities such as Kharkiv, Mykolaiv, Nikopol and Dnipro followed a warning by President Volodymyr Zelensky of the threat of “counterintuitive Russian provocations” ahead of Wednesday’s 31st anniversary of independence from the Moscow-ruled region.

August 24 marked six months since Russian troops invaded Ukraine, triggering Europe’s most destructive conflict since World War II.

Residents of the small town, about 145 km (90 miles) west of Russian-held Donetsk, mourned for their loved ones amid the rubble of their destroyed homes, as rescue operations were completed in Chaplin.

Local resident Sergi lost his 11-year-old son in the strike. “We found him there in the ruins, and he was lying here. No one knew he was here. No one knew,” he mumbled beside his covered body.

Russia’s Defense Ministry did not immediately comment on the attack. Speaking in Uzbekistan, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu repeated Moscow’s line on what he called a “special military operation” to prevent civilian casualties in Ukraine. Read on

Russia has denied targeting civilians. It also said that railway infrastructure is a legitimate target for supplying Western arms to Ukraine.

Commenting on the attack, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Twitter: “Russia’s missile attack on a train station full of civilians in Ukraine is an example of atrocity. We will stand with Ukraine with partners around the world. And hold Russian officials accountable.”

Celebrations for Wednesday’s public holiday were canceled but many Ukrainians marked the occasion by wearing shirts emblazoned with the national costume.

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

Air raid sirens went off in Kiev at least seven times during the day, but there were no attacks. Ukrainian officials said 189 airstrike warnings were issued across the country on Wednesday, more than at any other time in the six-month conflict.

Zelensky and his wife, Olena, joined religious leaders for a service at Kiev’s 11th-century St. Sophia Cathedral and laid flowers at a memorial to fallen soldiers.

The 44-year-old leader said Ukraine would retake the Russian-occupied territories of 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 area, regional officials said, west of Kiev and hundreds of kilometers from the front lines. There was no damage or loss of life.

Citing local sources, Saspil TV public broadcaster reported an explosion early Thursday near the Antonievsky Bridge across the Dnipro River in the southern Kherson region, a key supply line for the Russian military in the region.

Ukraine’s southern military command reported missile attacks on the Nova Kakhovka dam at the Dnipro River crossing, another key Russian supply line in the Kherson region.

Reuters could not verify the battlefield accounts.

At a session of the United Nations Security Council on Wednesday, Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia reiterated Moscow’s rationale for Moscow’s action, saying it aimed to “destabilize and disarm” Ukraine to eliminate “obvious” security threats to Russia.

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

U.S. President Joe Biden announced nearly $3 billion in arms and equipment for Ukraine on Wednesday in Washington, bringing his administration’s total military aid commitment to more than $13.5 billion.

Russia has made some progress in recent months after withdrawing its troops from Kiev in the early weeks of the war.

Ukraine’s top military intelligence officer, Kirill Budanov, said on Wednesday that Russia’s offensive was being slowed by low morale and physical exhaustion in its ranks and Moscow’s “exhausted” resource base. Read on

Russian forces have taken control of the southern part, including parts of the Black Sea and Azov coasts, and large swaths of Luhansk and Donetsk provinces that make up the eastern Donbass region.

The war has killed tens of thousands of civilians, driven more than a third of Ukraine’s 41 million people from their homes, devastated cities and shaken the global economy, creating shortages of essential food and driving up energy prices.

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Report by Reuters Bureau; Writing by Cynthia Osterman and Tomasz Janowski; Edited by Lincoln Fest and Gareth Jones

Our Standards: Principles of Thomson Reuters Trust.

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