Zelensky promises response after at least 25 dead in Russian strike on Ukraine Independence Day
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Wednesday vowed to make Russia “bear responsibility” for a rocket attack against a Ukrainian train station in Chaplyne that killed more than 20 people during the country’s Independence Day.
“Chaplyne is our pain today,” Zelensky said in his evening address. “As of this moment, there are 22 dead, five of them burned in the car, an 11-year-old teenager died, a Russian missile destroyed his house.”
Zelensky had warned that Russia might step up its attacks on Wednesday during the holiday, which also marked six months since Russia invaded Ukraine, saying “something particularly cruel” might happen.
“Search and rescue operations at the railway station will continue,” Zelensky said in his evening address.
“We will definitely make the occupiers bear responsibility for everything they have done,” he continued. And we will certainly drive the invaders out of our land. Not a single stain of this evil will remain in our free Ukraine.”
Authorities in Kyiv banned large gatherings during Independence Day out of fear of Russian attacks.
Air raid sirens sounded during the day, and the population mostly laid low, but crowds gathered on a main street in the city to see a display of destroyed Russian tanks, armored personnel carriers and rocket launchers.
“The occupier believed that in a few days he would be on parade in our capital’s downtown,” Zelensky said earlier on Wednesday in an address marking Independence Day.
“Today, you can see this ‘parade’ on Khreshchatyk,” Zelensky added. “The proof that enemy equipment can appear in the center of Kyiv only in such form. Burnt, wrecked and destroyed.”
President Biden marked Ukraine’s holiday, which celebrates the country’s independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, by pledging an additional roughly $3 billion security assistance package.
The package, which includes six National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems and laser-guided rocket systems, is the single largest U.S. assistance measure to Ukraine since Russia invaded in February.
“They have stood resolute and strong in the face of Russia’s full scale invasion of Ukraine. And today is not only a celebration of the past, but a resounding affirmation that Ukraine proudly remains — and will remain — a sovereign and independent nation,” Biden said in a statement on Wednesday.