Russia’s Defence Ministry has confirmed that its forces were behind the Wednesday’s missile strike on a railway station in central Ukraine that Kyiv said left at least 25 people dead, including civilians.
However, Russian Defence Ministry spokesperson Igor Konashenkov claimed that more than 200 Ukrainian soldiers on their way to fight in the Donbas region had been killed in the attack in the central Dnipropetrovsk region town of Chaplyne.
No evidence was produced to support the claim that so many soldiers died, however. Mr Konashenkov added that the rocket hit a part of the station used by the Ukrainian military and that military equipment had also been destroyed.
The Ukrainian authorities said that 25 people, including two children, had died in the attack, while at least 30 others were injured.
The deputy head of the Ukrainian presidential office, Kyrylo Tymoshenko, said that Russian forces had targeted both residential areas and railway infrastructure in Chaplyne.
Mr Tymoshenko said an 11-year-old who was crushed under rubble and a 6-year-old killed in a car fire near the train station had been among the victims.
Neither the Russian nor the Ukrainian claims could be independently verified.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky condemned the attack, which was carried out on Ukraine’s Independence Day, which fell six months to the day after the Russian invasion began.
U.S. President Joe Biden called Mr Zelensky on Thursday to offer him his moral support and to promise Washington’s continuing backing for Kyiv as the war entered its seventh month.
Ukrainian train stations and rail infrastructure have repeatedly been targeted during the war.
In April, at least 57 people died in an attack on a train station in the city of Kramatorsk in the eastern Donbas region.
Another recurring feature has been Russian efforts to take control of Ukrainian nuclear plants, which has led to worries that a miscalculation could result in a nuclear catastrophe.
Kyiv said on Thursday that Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant, occupied by Russian forces, had been disconnected from the Ukrainian electricity grid, though Ukrainian nuclear agency Enerhoatom stressed that the plant’s power supply, which is vital for its safety, was being maintained.
In his Thursday night video address, Mr Zelensky called on the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to act with greater urgency over the contested plant.
“Every minute that the Russian military remains at the nuclear power plant means the risk of a global radiation disaster,” he stressed.
Moscow said the last two last operational reactors at the plant had been temporarily shut down due to Ukrainian shelling. However, the Russian-installed governor of the Zaporizhzhya region, Yevgeny Balitsky, said on Telegram that one of the reactors had subsequently been restarted.
Kyiv and Moscow have repeatedly blamed each other for shelling Europe’s largest nuclear power plant. (NAN)