Zelensky warns of 'cruel' Russian action around independence day

‘Don’t let Moscow spread despondency and fear ahead of the August 24 events’

August 21, 2022 10:13 pm | Updated August 22, 2022 01:37 pm IST - Kyiv, Ukraine

People attend an exhibition displaying destroyed Russian military vehicles located on the main street Khreshchatyk as part of the upcoming celebration of the Independence Day of Ukraine, amid Russia’s invasion, in central Kyiv, Ukraine August 21, 2022.

People attend an exhibition displaying destroyed Russian military vehicles located on the main street Khreshchatyk as part of the upcoming celebration of the Independence Day of Ukraine, amid Russia’s invasion, in central Kyiv, Ukraine August 21, 2022. | Photo Credit: REUTERS

President Volodymyr Zelensky urged vigilance ahead of celebrations of 31 years of Ukraine’s independence from Soviet rule on August 24, as shells rained down near Europe’s biggest nuclear plant and Russian forces struck in the south and east.

Ukrainians must not allow Moscow to “spread despondency and fear” ahead of the events, which also mark six months since Russia began its full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Mr. Zelensky said in his nightly video address on Saturday.

“We must all be aware that this week Russia could try to do something particularly ugly, something particularly vicious,” Mr. Zelensky said.

The nightly curfew in Ukraine’s second-largest city, Kharkiv, regularly hit by Russian shelling, will be extended for the entire day on Wednesday, Governor Oleh Synehub told residents on the Telegram messaging app.

As the war that has killed thousands and forced millions to flee heads for its half-year mark, Ukrainian military and local officials reported more Russian strikes overnight on targets in the east and south of the country.

Ukraine’s general staff said on Facebook early on Sunday that over the past 24 hours Russian forces had conducted several attempted assaults in Donbas. The eastern border region controlled in part by pro-Moscow separatists has been a prime target of Russia’s campaign in the past months.

In the south, Russian forces conducted a successful assault on a village of Blahodatne at the border between Kherson and Mykolaiv regions. The city of Mykolaiv was hit with multiple S-300 missiles early on Sunday, regional governor Vitaliy Kim said on Telegram.

The area on the Black Sea coast has seen some of the fiercest fighting of the past weeks.

To the northeast, the city of Nikopol, which lies across the Dnipro river from Zaporizhzhia, Europe’s biggest nuclear plant, was shelled on five different occasions overnight, regional governor Valentyn Reznichenko said.

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