Ukraine: Zelensky warns of a "vicious" Russian attack ahead of Independence Day celebrations

Ukraine: Zelensky warns of a “vicious” Russian attack ahead of Independence Day celebrations

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As Ukraine prepares to celebrate its independence from the Soviet Union on August 24, its president, Volodymyr Zelensky, warned his countrymen on Saturday that Russia might launch a “heinous” attack on this occasion. On the ground, on Saturday, a Russian missile hit a residential area in a town in southern Ukraine not far from a nuclear power plant, wounding 14 civilians.

Call Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky His countrymen Saturday to be vigilant this week as they prepare to celebrate Independence Day as new explosions rock Crimea 12 civilians were wounded by a missile near nuclear power plant.

In his video night speech, Zelensky said that Ukrainians should not allow Moscow to “spread despair and fear” among them during the commemoration of the 31st anniversary of independence from Soviet rule. He said before the anniversary on August 24, which also coincides with the passage of six months since the start of the comprehensive Russian invasion for Ukraine “We all have to realize that this week Russia may try to do something particularly ugly and something particularly sinister.”

Kharkiv Governor Ole Sinehub said the curfew in Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second largest city, would be extended for a full day on August 24. The northeastern city is regularly bombed by Russia and there is usually a curfew from 10 pm to 6 am.

Also on Saturday, Russian and Ukrainian officials said, a Russian missile hit a residential area in a southern Ukrainian town not far from a nuclear power plant, wounding 14 civilians.

Ukrainian officials said that the Russian strike near the Pevdnoukrainsk nuclear plant, also known as the Southern Ukraine plant, and a new bombing near the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant, Europe’s largest, have raised new fears of a nuclear accident during the war.

In his speech, Zelensky also indirectly referred to a series of explosions that took place in recent days in the Ukrainian Crimea, which Russia occupied and annexed during the 2014 incursion.

Ukraine has not claimed responsibility for the attacks, but analysts said at least some of them were made possible by new equipment used by Ukrainian forces.

In the latest attack in Crimea, the Russian-appointed governor, who is not recognized by the West, said a drone had bombed a building near the headquarters of the Russian fleet in the Black Sea on Saturday morning. “A drone flew over the roof… It was shot down just above the headquarters of the fleet. It fell on the roof and burned. The attack failed,” Governor Mikhail Razvogayev said on Telegram.

Razvogayev later issued another statement on Telegram, in which he said that the anti-aircraft system in the area had been activated again and asked residents to stop filming and publishing footage showing how it was working.

Ukrainian media reported that explosions occurred in nearby towns, including the resorts of Yevpatoria, Olinivka and Zazyornoye.

There have been explosions and fires in Crimea in the past week, including an explosion at a Russian air base that appears to have destroyed large numbers of aircraft, according to satellite images.

Children among the injured

After the bombing near the Pevdenokrainsk nuclear power plant, Vitaly Kim, the governor of the Mykolaiv region, said on Telegram that four children were among the people who were injured. The attack resulted in the destruction of private homes and a five-storey apartment building in Voznesensk, about 30 km from the plant, the second largest nuclear plant in Ukraine.

In an update on the number of casualties, the Ukrainian army’s Southern District said 14 civilians were wounded.

The state-run Energoatum, which operates all four of Ukraine’s nuclear power plants, called the attack on Voznesensk “another act of Russian nuclear terrorism”. “It is possible that this missile was directed specifically at the Pvdnoukrainsk nuclear power plant, which the Russian army tried to take over at the beginning of March,” it said in a statement.

Russia did not immediately respond to the accusation. Reuters has not yet been able to verify the situation in Voznesensk. No damage was reported to the Pevdenoukrainsk station.

Russia and Ukraine exchanged new accusations over the bombing around the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant, which Russia has controlled since March. Vladimir Rogov, a Russia-appointed official in the nearby town of Enerhodar, said Ukrainian forces had launched at least four strikes on the station. Yevhen Yushchenko, the mayor of Ukraine-controlled Nikopol on the opposite bank of the Dnipro river, said Russian forces had repeatedly bombed the town.

There are talks for more than a week to arrange a visit by the International Atomic Energy Agency of the United Nations to the plant. The Ukrainian authorities called on the United Nations and other international organizations to compel the Russian forces to leave the Zaporizhia station.

In Mariupol, a city in eastern Ukraine captured by Russia after weeks of bombing, officials said the city’s Russian-appointed mayor, Konstantin Ivchchenko, survived an assassination attempt. And about the assassination attempt, Petro Andryushchenko, a city council official who was overthrown, said on Telegram, “It didn’t work… but it’s only the beginning.”

FRANCE 24/Reuters

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