Last week, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky warned that Russian forces might attempt “something particularly cruel” to mark Ukraine’s Independence Day on August 24. And he was right.
On Wednesday, Russian forces launched a rocket attack on a train station in Chaplyne, killing 25 people and injuring between 30 and 50 others.
A town of about 3,500 people, Chaplyne is located in the central Dnipropetrovsk region of Ukraine.
On Thursday, Kyrylo Tymoshenko, a deputy from Zelensky’s office, said in a Telegram post that the number of wounded from Wednesday’s rocket attack was 31. Other reports put the number of wounded around 50.
Tymoshenko said an 11-year-old boy was also killed when a house what hit by a rocket and a 6-year-old was killed when a car caught fire near the train station.
Ukraine’s Independence Day marks the country’s 1991 independence from the Soviet Union. This year, it fell on the six-month anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
In the days leading up to Independence Day, officials in Kyiv banned large gatherings in the capital through Thursday fearing Russia might exploit the holiday to launch attacks on the city.
In his holiday message to the country, President Zelensky boasted of Ukraine’s success in keeping the Russian forces at bay since the February 24 invasion. He noted that on that day, Ukraine was told it had no chance against the Russians, but six months later, “we say, Happy Independence Day, Ukraine!”
Also adding to the heightened concerns that Russia may launch a significant attack on Independence Day was the car bombing outside of Moscow the previous weekend that killed the daughter of political theorist Alexander Dugin.
Russian officials blamed Ukraine for the killing of Darya Dugin, a pro-Kremlin commentator. However, Kyiv denied any involvement in the bombing.
Throughout the war, Russian forces have routinely targeted civilian areas in Ukrainian cities, including hospitals and a theater in Mariupol where hundreds of civilians were taking shelter.
On Wednesday, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu claimed that Moscow’s slow military pace in Ukraine was due to the Russian forces’ effort to spare the lives of civilians.