Ukraine’s Independence Day was marred by a deadly Russian attack on a train station in Chaplyne, in the east of the country, late in the day. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky had warned that Moscow could try “something particularly ugly” to coincide with the occasion, and in response to the looming threats of an attack, Kyiv had banned public celebrations.
In Kharkiv, where recent Russian attacks have been ongoing, authorities announced a curfew from 7 p.m. local time on the eve of Independence Day to 7 a.m. the following day. "We ask that you understand such measures and prepare to stay at home and in shelters — this is our safety," authorities said.
Despite the warnings and the threat of another Russian attack, as well as the ban on celebrations in Kyiv, Ukrainians still found ways to celebrate their country. On Khreschatyk Avenue, the capital’s main street, the government replaced the traditional military parade with a display of destroyed or captured Russian tanks, illustrating the feeling of pride that reigns among Ukrainians. People also spent the day posting Ukrainian flags and victory messages on social media.
Meanwhile, Zelensky and first lady Olena Zelenska visited the Memory Wall of Fallen Defenders of Ukraine in the capital. And in the western city of Lviv, family members of fallen soldiers attended a ceremony at the memorial the Field of Mars.
Countries around the world celebrated Independence Day in solidarity with Ukraine: In Ottawa, Canada, the parliament was lit up with the Ukrainian colors, while cities like New York, Berlin, Dublin, Warsaw, Sofia, Athens and Prague held events and celebrations in support of Ukraine.
Death Toll Rises To 25 In Chaplyne Train Station Attack
Russian missile attack on Chaplyne
Several Russian attacks were carried out around Ukraine on Wednesday as the country marked its Independence Day. The death toll from the Russian attack on Chaplyne train station in Ukraine's Dnipropetrovsk region has risen to 25, according to Ukrainian officials.
Kyrylo Tymoshenko, deputy head of the president's office, said search and rescue operations had been completed. “Twenty-five people died, including two children, 31 people were injured due to the shelling of the residential sector and the railway station," Tymoshenko said on Thursday.
Meanwhile, two Russian rockets hit communities near Ukraine's capital Kyiv overnight, according to Oleksiy Kuleba, head of Kyiv's regional state administration, although no injuries or destruction of infrastructure were reported.
French Energy Giant TotalEnergies Denies Supplying Fuel To Russia
TotalEnergies has rejected claims that it is involved in supplying fuel to Russian war planes, through Terneftegaz, a venture with Russia's Novatek gas company in which the French energy giant owns a stake.
TotalEnergies acknowledged its Terneftegaz shareholding but denied operating any infrastructure that produces the gas condensate used to make jet fuel, as French daily Le Monde purports. French Transport Minister Clement Beaune called for an investigation into the matter.
Spain To Send First Military Aid Package To Ukraine
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez and Volodymyr Zelensky in April
Spain will send its first shipment of military aid to Ukraine. The package will include anti-aircraft batteries, missiles and battle tanks among other items. The country is also expected to train Ukrainian soldiers to use the equipment. In parallel, the Spanish Army has reportedly deployed 500 soldiers in Latvia under NATO's Enhanced Advanced Presence operation.
So far, Spain had only supplied munitions, uniforms and weapons to Kyiv. The decision to increase support was taken after Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez and Volodymyr Zelensky met in April, but the complexity of the operation delayed it until now.
UN Rights Chief Urges Documentation Of War Crimes
In a speech ahead of ending her term, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet has urged Russia’s President Vladimir Putin to halt armed attacks on Ukraine and added that the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, under Russian control, has to be demilitarized.
Bachelet used her speech to emphasize that, “the international community must insist on documentation” to keep evidence of the war crimes committed in Ukraine.
Moscow To Waive VAT For Companies Helping Russian-Occupied Territories
Shopping mall in Russia
A new bill is set to be submitted to the State Duma —the lower house of Russian Parliament — that will cancel VAT for companies and organizations providing humanitarian assistance to the Donetsk People's Republic (DNR) and Luhansk People's Republic (LNR). Currently, companies and organizations pay VAT in full on property transferred to the liberated republics of the DNR and LNR.
According to Russian newspaper Izvestia, the tax must be paid when supplying machinery equipment to the Donbass region, as well as carrying out construction work on the construction of housing and infrastructure. The authors of the bill believe that the VAT cancellation will help increase the volume of humanitarian aid to these regions and that it is necessary to enshrine in Russian legislation a list of goods and services that will be considered useful to the DNR and LNR.
Google To Run Ads "Inoculating" Against Fake News About Ukrainian Refugees
Google in Munich
Google Jigsaw, a Google subsidiary in charge of tackling online security dangers, will launch a campaign next week on Facebook, TikTok, Twitter and Facebook to help tackle disinformation. The ads, which will be shown in Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic, aim to inform users about bias in media headlines and falsified information concerning Ukrainian refugees.
The campaign was inspired by a successful experiment from the universities of Cambridge and Bristol, which found that social media can actively pre-empt the spread of disinformation. Working with Jigsaw, psychologists have produced 90-second clips designed to "inoculate" people against harmful content on social media. The campaign aims to build resilience to anti-refugee narratives by working in partnership with local non-government organizations, fact checkers, academics, and disinformation experts.
Belarusian Tennis Star Dropped From Ukraine Relief Match After Complaints
Former world no. 1 Victoria Azarenka, from Belarus, was pulled from a star-studded pre-U.S. Open exhibition match organized to raise money for relief efforts in Ukraine, just hours before game started on Wednesday.
The decision came after several tennis players from Ukraine complained about Azarenka’s participation in the Tennis Plays for Peace Exhibition game. “In the last 24 hours, after careful consideration and dialogue with all parties involved, Victoria Azarenka will not be participating in our Tennis Plays for Peace Exhibition this evening,” the United States Tennis Association announced in a statement, adding that “given the sensitivities to Ukrainian players, and the on-going conflict, we believe this is the right course of action for us.”
Earlier this year, the Belarusian player — currently ranked no. 22 in the world — had called for unity following her country’s participation in Russia's invasion of Ukraine, and criticized Wimbledon's ban on Russian and Belarusian players.