By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
KYIV/BUDAPEST (Worthy News) – Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky said Wednesday that at least 15 people were killed and dozens wounded in a Russian rocket strike on a Ukrainian railway station as his nation marked the 31st anniversary of its independence from the Moscow-ruled Soviet Union.
Zelensky had warned of the risk of “Russian provocations” on Independence Day, which came six months after Russian forces first invaded Ukraine.
The president said the rockets had hit a train in the town of Chaplyne, some 145 km (90 miles) west of Russian-occupied Donetsk in eastern Ukraine. Four carriages were on fire, he added in a video message to the United Nations.
The bloodshed came after air sirens were heard in territories still controlled by Ukraine as they marked the invasion and Independence Day.
Ahead of the commemoration, Russia got a military parade in Kyiv but perhaps not the one President Vladimir Putin had wished for: Instead, Russian tanks destroyed by the Ukrainian military lined up the streets.
But military and other public events to mark Ukraine’s Independence Day were canceled as President Zelensky worried they could become a target for Russian attacks.
With a video address, Zelensky warned his nation that Ukraine’s Independence Day was “also important for the enemy.”
In his words, “Russian provocations and brutal strikes are possible. The armed forces of Ukraine, our intelligence, and special forces will do everything to protect the people and will surely respond to any manifestation of Russian terror.”
In separate remarks, Zelensky pledged that the Ukrainian and Tatar flags would one day fly again over the Crimean peninsula, which Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014.
He and his wife Olena Zelenska later laid flowers at the “Wall of Memory of the Fallen Defenders” at the Mykhailivskyi Cathedral in Kyiv, the capital.
Germany’s Chancellor Olaf Scholz used the occasion of Ukraine’s Independence Day to pledge more military support. His nation had been reluctant to do so, recalling its controversial role in World War Two.
However, “We will continue to supply weapons from tank howitzers to air defense systems, month after month. We will continue to train Ukrainian soldiers on the latest European equipment. We will continue our sanctions. We will support Ukraine financially and help rebuild the destroyed cities and villages,” Scholz said in video remarks viewed by Worthy News.
But it remains unclear if more weapons will help end the war soon. Ukraine and invader Russia have already paid a terrible human price in the fighting.
At least tens of thousands of people, including civilians and soldiers, were reportedly killed since the war began on February 24.
Millions have lost their homes or been forced into exile, prompting the United States to announce a further $3 billion in much-needed aid on Wednesday.
And senior politicians from across Europe traveled to Kyiv to show their support in person. They arrived despite security warnings, including a US call for its citizens to leave war-torn Ukraine.
Yet there was little hope that an end to the fighting was in sight, with both sides pledging to continue their battles, leading to appeals for prayers.
The World Evangelical Alliance and the European Evangelical Alliance asked believers and churches to pray for an end to the war.
In the Vatican, Pope Francis said he prayed “for peace for the Ukrainian people suffering from the horrors of war for six months now.” He called the war “madness” and remembered the many Ukrainian and Russian war orphans of Europe’s most significant conflict since the Second World War.
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