Zelensky warns of ‘ugly’ Russian attack ahead of Independence Day

  • Ukraine warns Russia could do something ‘particularly ugly’
  • Zelensky emphasizes the battle against despair and fear
  • The August 24 event marks six months since the invasion of Russia
  • New bombings in Crimea; Missile injuries near nuclear power plant 12

KYIV, Aug. 21 (Reuters) – President Volodymyr Zelensky urged Ukrainians to remain vigilant ahead of celebrations on Wednesday marking 31 years since independence from Soviet rule.

Ukrainians should not allow Moscow to “spread frustration and fear” ahead of the events of August 24, which will come six months after Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Zelenskiy said on Saturday.

“We should all be aware that this week Russia might try to do something particularly ugly, particularly evil,” Zelensky said in a video of the night’s remarks.

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A curfew in Ukraine’s second-largest city of Kharkiv will be extended through Wednesday, regional governor Oleh Sinheb said. A curfew is usually in effect between 10pm and 6am in the north-eastern city, which has been hit by frequent Russian shelling.

“Stay home and heed the warnings!” Synehub wrote to residents on the Telegram messaging app.

On Saturday, a Russian missile struck a residential area of ​​a southern Ukrainian city not far from a nuclear power plant, injuring 14 civilians, Russian and Ukrainian officials said.

A strike at the Pivdennoukrainsk (southern Ukraine) nuclear power plant and a new shelling attack near Europe’s largest plant at Zaporizhia have renewed fears of a nuclear accident, Ukrainian officials said.

In his speech, Zelensky also made oblique reference to a recent series of explosions in Crimea, a Ukrainian territory annexed by Russia in 2014.

Ukraine has not claimed responsibility for the attacks, but analysts have attributed at least some of them to new equipment used by its forces.

“You can really feel Crimea in the air this year, the occupation there is temporary and Ukraine is coming back,” Zelensky said.

In the latest attack in Crimea, Russia’s appointed governor, who is not recognized by the West, said a drone struck a building near the headquarters of Russia’s Black Sea fleet on Saturday morning.

“A drone flew over the roof. It was flying low,” Mikhail Rasvojev said on Telegram. “It came down above the naval headquarters. It fell on the roof and caught fire. The attack failed.”

Razvozhayev said the region’s anti-aircraft system is back in action and asked residents to stop filming and spreading the word about how it works.

Ukrainian media reported explosions in nearby towns, including the resorts of Yevpatoria, Olenivka and Zayoornoi.

Children were among the injured

Following the strike near a power plant in southern Ukraine, four children were among the injured, Mykolaiv Region Governor Vitaly Kim said in a telegram.

Private houses and a five-story apartment building were damaged in Voznesensk, 30 km (20 miles) from Ukraine’s second-largest plant.

Updating a count, officials in the southern district of the Ukrainian military said 14 civilians were wounded.

State-run Energoatom, which manages Ukraine’s four nuclear power generators, said the attack on Voznesensk was “another act of Russian nuclear terrorism”.

“The missile may have specifically targeted the Pivdennoukrainsk plant, which the Russian military tried to recapture in early March,” it said in a statement.

Russia did not immediately respond to the accusation. Reuters could not verify the situation in Voznesensk. There were no reports of damage to the southern Ukraine plant.

Russia and Ukraine have traded fresh accusations of shelling around the Russian-run Zaporizhzhia station since March.

Vladimir Rokov, a Russian-appointed official in the nearby town of Enerhodar, said Ukrainian forces had launched at least four attacks on the plant.

Yevhen Yetushenko, the mayor of Ukrainian-controlled Nikopol on the opposite bank of the Dnipro River, said Russian forces had repeatedly shelled the city.

Negotiations for a visit to the Zaporizhzhia plant by the United Nations Atomic Energy Agency lasted more than a week. Ukrainian officials have urged the UN and other world bodies to force Russian forces to leave the plant. read more

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Reporting by Ron Popeski and Natalia Zinets; By Simon Lewis and Clarence Fernandez; Editing by Cynthia Osterman and William Mallard

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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