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A Russian missile attack killed at least 22 civilians and set fire to a passenger train in eastern Ukraine as the country marked Independence Day under heavy shelling, officials in Kyiv said. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky had warned of “repugnant Russian provocations” ahead of the 31st anniversary on Wednesday of Ukraine’s independence from Soviet rule, and public celebrations were cancelled. Follow our liveblog for all the latest developments. All times are Paris time (GMT+2).

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8:48am: French minister seeks probe into Total’s possible fuel links to Russian army

The French transport minister called on Thursday for an investigation into whether French oil major TotalEnergies was involved in supplying jet fuel to the Russian military through a local joint venture.

Le Monde newspaper reported on Wednesday that TotalEnergies was involved in supplying gas condensate to make jet fuel that may have been used by Russian warplanes in Ukraine, via the French firm’s stake in a venture with Russia’s Novatek.

“This is an extremely serious subject, so there needs to be an investigation into whether, voluntarily or involuntarily, there has been a bypass of either the sanctions or the energy that a company, French or other, has produced,” French Transport Minister Clement Beaune said on France 2 television.

8:34am: Ukrainian fears run high over fighting near Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant

Ukrainians are once again anxious and alarmed about the fate of a nuclear power plant in a land that was home to the world’s worst atomic accident in 1986 at Chernobyl.

The Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, Europe’s largest, has been occupied by Russian forces since the early days of the war, and continued fighting near the facility has heightened fears of a catastrophe that could affect nearby towns in southern Ukraine — or potentially an even wider region.

The government in Kyiv alleges Russia is essentially holding the Soviet-era nuclear plant hostage, storing weapons there and launching attacks from around it, while Moscow accuses Ukraine of recklessly firing on the facility, which is located in the city of Enerhodar.

“Anybody who understands nuclear safety issues has been trembling for the last six months,” said Mycle Schneider, an independent policy consultant and coordinator of the World Nuclear Industry Status Report.

6:01am: Six months into war, Russian goods still flowing to US

On a hot, humid East Coast day this summer, a massive container ship pulled into the Port of Baltimore loaded with sheets of plywood, aluminum rods and radioactive material — all sourced from the fields, forests and factories of Russia.

US President Joe Biden promised to “inflict pain” and deal “a crushing blow” on Vladimir Putin through trade restrictions on commodities like vodka, diamonds and gasoline in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine six months ago. But hundreds of other types of unsanctioned goods worth billions of dollars, including those found on the ship bound for Baltimore from St. Petersburg, Russia, continue to flow into US ports.

AP found more than 3,600 shipments of wood, metals, rubber and other goods have arrived at U.S. ports from Russia since it began launching missiles and airstrikes into its neighbor in February. That’s a significant drop from the same period in 2021 when about 6,000 shipments arrived, but it still adds up to more than $1 billion worth of commerce a month.

3:50am: Ukraine plans international court to put Putin on trial

Six months into Russia’s invasion, Ukrainian officials are drawing up plans to make sure Russian President Vladimir Putin and his top military commanders will be tried for launching the war.

The plan for a special international tribunal to investigate Russia’s alleged “crime of aggression” is being spearheaded by Andrii Smirnov, deputy head of Ukraine‘s presidential administration.

The definition of the crime of aggression was adopted in the 2010 Rome Statute, and the similar notion of “crime against peace” was used in trials in Nuremberg and Tokyo after the Second World War.

The International Criminal Court, which has been trying the gravest crimes for the past 20 years, is already investigating war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide in Ukraine.

2:27am: Russian attack kills at least 22 civilians on Ukraine’s Independence Day, Kyiv officials say

A Russian missile attack killed 22 civilians and set a passenger train on fire in eastern Ukraine as the country marked its Independence Day under heavy shelling, officials in Kyiv said.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky had warned of the risk of “repugnant Russian provocations” ahead of the 31st anniversary on Wednesday of Ukraine’s independence from Moscow-dominated Soviet rule, and public celebrations were cancelled.

The holiday also coincided with six months since Russian forces invaded Ukraine, touching off Europe’s most devastating conflict since World War II.

In a video address to the United Nations Security Council, Zelensky said rockets hit a train in the small town of Chaplyne, some 145 km (90 miles) west of Russian-occupied Donetsk in eastern Ukraine.

“Chaplyne is our pain today. As of this moment there are 22 dead,” he said in a later evening video address, adding that Ukraine would hold Russia responsible for everything it had done.

© France Médias Monde graphic studio

(FRANCE 24 with AP, AFP and REUTERS)

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