At least 15 killed in Russian attack on train station: Zelenskyy

At least 15 killed in Russian attack on train station: Zelenskyy

Russian forces have launched a rocket attack on a train station in central Ukraine on the country’s Independence Day, killing at least 15 people and wounding about 50, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said.

In a video address to the United Nations Security Council on Wednesday, Zelenskyy said the attack set fire to four train carriages in Chaplyne, a town of about 3,500 people in the Dnipropetrovsk region.

“Rescuers are working, but, unfortunately, the death toll could increase,” he said.

The president had warned that Russia “may try to do something particularly nasty” to disrupt the celebrations as Ukraine marked the 31st anniversary of its independence. Wednesday also marked the six-month point in the war.

Residents of the capital, which has been largely spared in recent months, woke up Wednesday to air raid sirens, but no immediate strikes followed.

Russian bombardments were reported in the country’s east, west and central areas, with the deadliest reported attack at the train station.

The president’s office also said an 11-year-old child was killed by rocket fire in another part of the Dnipropetrovsk region.

Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu, speaking Wednesday at a meeting of his counterparts from a security organisation dominated by Russia and China, claimed the slow pace of Moscow’s military action was due to what he said was an effort to spare civilians.

“Undoubtedly, it slows down the pace of the offensive, but we do it deliberately,” he said.

He also criticised the United States and its allies for “continuing to pump weapons into Ukraine,” saying the aid is dragging out the conflict and increasing casualties.

Russian forces have repeatedly targeted civilian areas in cities, including hospitals and a Mariupol theatre where hundreds of people were taking shelter.

At Kyiv’s Maidan Square, thousands of residents posed for pictures next to burned-out Russian tanks put on display. Many revellers ignored the sirens and took to the streets to celebrate their nation’s independence.

A woman rides on a scooter near a destroyed Russian tank located on the main street Khreshchatyk.

“I can’t sleep at night because of what I see and hear about what is being done in Ukraine,” said a retiree who gave only her first name, Tetyana, as quoted by the Associated Press news agency. “This is not a war. It is the destruction of the Ukrainian people.”

In a message to the country, Zelenskyy exulted over Ukraine’s success in fending off Moscow’s forces since the invasion.

“On February 24, we were told: You have no chance,” he said. “On August 24, we say: Happy Independence Day, Ukraine!”

Zelenskyy had warned in a statement prior to the attack on Chaplyne’s train station that “brutal strikes” were a possibility. “Please strictly follow the safety rules. Please observe the curfew. Pay attention to the air sirens,” he said.

US President Joe Biden said Independence Day would be bittersweet for many Ukrainians, as “thousands have been killed or wounded, millions have been displaced from their homes, and so many others have fallen victim to Russian atrocities and attacks.”

“But six months of relentless attacks have only strengthened Ukrainians’ pride in themselves, in their country, and in their 31 years of independence,” he said.

Outgoing British Prime Minister Boris Johnson marked the holiday with a visit to Kyiv — his third since the war broke out — and other European leaders used the occasion to pledge unwavering support for Ukraine.

In Germany, Chancellor Olaf Scholz rebuked the Kremlin for its “backward imperialism” and declared that Ukraine “will drive away the dark shadow of war because it is strong and brave, because it has friends in Europe and all over the world.”