Ukraine War Update: A Russian missile attack on a train station and a residential area killed at least 25 civilians and set fire to five passenger train cars in eastern Ukraine as the country marked Independence Day, officials in Kyiv said.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky had warned of “ugly Russian provocations” ahead of Ukraine’s independence day on Wednesday, and the worst of their concerns had happened. Wednesday marked Ukraine’s 31st anniversary of gaining independence from the Soviet Union. The death toll rose from 22 when emergency responders found more bodies in the rubble.
“As of this morning, we have 25 dead, including two children, and 31 people injured, including two children,” Ukrainian Railways said on the Telegram channel app on Thursday. The small town of Chaplyne, with a population of 3,500, is located 90 miles west of Russian-occupied Donetsk.
President Zelensky, speaking remotely to the UN Security Council, said he had received information of a Russian missile attack in the Dnipropetrovsk region at the Chaplyne railway station. “Four passenger cars are burning,” he said, according to the translation. “At least 15 people have been killed so far, about 50 injured.”
“Rescuers are working,” Zelensky added during his video address to the U.N. Security Council. “But, unfortunately, the number of dead may still increase.”
“There is no such war crime that the Russian occupiers have not yet committed on the territory of Ukraine,” he said. Later on Wednesday night, during his video address to the nation, Zelensky said, “Chaplyne is our pain today.”
Russian Defense Minister Claims Slow Progress a Result of Protecting Ukrainian Civilians
Speaking at the China-led Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in Uzbekistan, a security organization dominated by China and Russia, Moscow’s Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu told the attendees that Russia’s slow progress was deliberate.
He then added the eyebrow-raising statement that this slow prodding progress was due to Moscow’s concern for Ukrainian civilians. He then added that Russian military forces strictly observe “the norms of humanitarian law.”
After having to slog their way through the cities of Severodonetsk and Lysychansk earlier this summer, the war has become a stalemate with little movement on either side. But according to Shoigu, Russia’s concerns for Ukraine’s civilians is behind the lack of progress. “Of course, this slows down the pace of the offensive, but we do it deliberately,” he said.
Russian forces have targeted civilian targets and infrastructure since the war began, hitting a crowded station earlier in the invasion, killing 50, and a crowded theater in Mariupol clearly marked that children were sheltering there in an attack that killed hundreds.
The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has reported that Ukrainian civilian casualties number 13,477—5,587 deaths (2,161 men, 1,490 women, 149 girls, and 175 boys, as well as 38 children and 1,574 adults whose sex is yet unknown) and 7,890 wounded (1,603 men, 1,190 women, 172 girls, and 236 boys, as well as 202 children and 4,487 adults whose sex is yet unknown), through August 21. But those numbers will undoubtedly climb.
“Most of the civilian casualties recorded were caused by the use of explosive weapons with wide-area effects, including shelling from heavy artillery, multiple launch rocket systems, missiles, and air strikes,” the OHCHR has recorded, adding that actual figures are likely “considerably higher.”
Shoigu, it should be noted, has spread many falsehoods since the war began. He insisted that Russia invaded to stop the killing of people in the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts. That Ukraine was planning a nuclear attack on Russia, that attacks on civilians, and Ukrainian POWs were conducted by Kyiv.
And just three weeks ago, he alternately claimed that Russian forces had destroyed six of the US-made HIMARS missile systems and that their forces have found a way to hack into and locate the HIMARS systems. The baseless claims have not passed the test of time.
Expert Biography: Steve Balestrieri is a 1945 National Security Columnist. A proven military analyst, he served as a US Army Special Forces NCO and Warrant Officer in the 7th Special Forces Group. In addition to writing for 19fortyfive.com and other military news organizations, he has covered the NFL for PatsFans.com for over 11 years. His work was regularly featured in the Millbury-Sutton Chronicle and Grafton News newspapers in Massachusetts.