Ukraine’s capital Kyiv has banned public celebrations marking independence from Soviet rule. This was due to a rising threat of attack after a US official warned that Russia would strike Ukrainian infrastructure within the next few days.
Ukraine claimed that Russia launched rockets at several villages near the frontlines of the country’s south. The attack was made by Russian forces who captured the largest nuclear power station in Europe shortly after their February invasion of Ukraine.
There have been calls to demilitarize the area, following rocket fire and artillery near the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant complex on the south bank. Residents of Ukraine living near the plant expressed concern that shells could strike one of six reactors and cause serious damage.
“Ofcourse, we are concerned. … It’s almost like sitting on a powder kettle,” Alexander Lifirenko, a local resident, said. He is now under the control of pro-Moscow troops.
Volodymyr Zelenskiy, the Ukrainian President, warned Moscow that Moscow might try “something particularly nasty” to mark Wednesday’s (24 Aug) 31st Independence Anniversary. This anniversary also marks half a decade since Russia invaded Ukraine.
A US official warned of possible harm to civilians and said that Russia was “stepping up efforts” to launch strikes against Ukraine’s civil infrastructure and government facilities.
According to the official, the statement was based upon downgraded US intelligence.
Authorities in Kyiv banned public events related to the anniversary of independence from Monday to Thursday (25 Aug), due to renewed rocket attacks. Since March, when Ukraine defeated a ground offensive to take over the capital, the capital has been far away from the frontlines and has rarely been struck by Russian missiles.
Other jurisdictions have also banned public gatherings. Mayor Ihor Terekhov of Kharkiv announced an extension to the overnight curfew effective Tuesday (23 August), and will continue to be in effect until Thursday.
Regional governor Vitaliykim said that authorities had issued a precautionary order to residents in Mykolaiv, which is near Russian-held territory to its south. He also urged people to avoid large gatherings.
Fears of increased attacks grew after Russian’s Federal Security Service accused Ukrainian agents of murdering Darya Dugina (daughter of an ultra-nationalist Russian ideologue) in a car bomb attack close to Moscow. President Vladimir Putin called it “evil.” Ukraine denies involvement.
Both sides have traded blame for frequent shelling at Zaporizhzhia’s nuclear plant. Kyiv accuses Moscow, which Kyiv claims is storing military hardware and troops. Russia denies the accusation and claims that Ukraine targeted Zaporizhzhia using drones.
Overnight, Russian forces fired rockets at the nearby towns of Nikopol and Krivyi Rih, according to Telegram.
Moscow requested that a U.N. Security Council meeting take place on Tuesday to address the Zaporizhzhia issue, Russian state-owned media agency RIA reported. Dmitry Polyanskiy, Deputy Ambassador to UN, was quoted.
In the south, fighting and explosions continued in Russian-occupied Kherson, and on the Crimean peninsula which Moscow annexed in 2014.
According to Russia’s Interfax news agency, the only bridge crossing the Dnipro River in Kherson was struck by HIMARS rockets from the United States. It injures 15 people.
As part of their counter-offensive to retake Kherson, Ukrainian forces have repeatedly attacked the bridge. It is a crucial crossing point for Russian military transport in this region. According to a Kyiv interior ministry adviser, smoke could be seen rising from the bridge.
Russian media reported that explosions took place in Sevastopol, a Crimean city. According to the Russian-appointed governor of Sevastopol, an anti-air defense system was activated nearby. In recent weeks, Crimea was rocked by several explosions. Moscow also blamed saboteurs for a blast at a munitions storage.
Russia launched a “special military operations” on 24 February to protect Russian-speaking communities and demilitarize its smaller neighbor. Russia and its Western supporters accuse Ukraine of engaging in an imperial-style war for conquest.
Citing its monitoring mission in Ukraine on Monday, the Office of the U.N. Human Rights High Commissioner for Human Rights stated that 5,587 civilians were killed and 7,890 were injured between February 24 and August 21. This was primarily due to artillery, missile and rocket attacks.
UNICEF, an U.N. children’s agency, stated that at least 972 children were killed or seriously injured in six months of war.
The majority of child deaths have been caused by explosive weapons. These weapons are not discriminatory between civilians and combatants, especially when they are used in densely populated areas like Ukraine,” Catherine Russell, the agency’s executive Director, stated in a statement.
Separately, General Valeriy Zaluzhnyi, the chief of Kyiv’s Army, reported what appeared to be the first public Ukrainian death toll. He said that nearly 9,000 soldiers had been killed in action.
Russia has yet to disclose the number of soldiers who have been killed. According to the General Staff of Ukraine, 45,400 Russian soldiers have been killed.
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