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

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  • Russia could do something ‘particularly ugly’, warns Ukraine
  • Zelenskiy calls for fighting discouragement and fear
  • The August 24 event also marks six months since the invasion of Russia.
  • New explosions in Crimea; missile near nuclear power plant injures 12

KYIV, Aug 21 (Reuters) – President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has urged Ukrainians to be vigilant ahead of Wednesday’s celebrations to mark 31 years of independence from Soviet rule, as fresh explosions hit Crimea and a missile injures 12 civilians near a nuclear power plant.

Ukrainians must not allow Moscow to “sow discouragement and fear” ahead of the August 24 events, which also come six months after Russia began its 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, something particularly vicious,” Zelenskiy said in late-night remarks on video.

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The curfew in Ukraine’s second-largest city, Kharkiv, is to be extended for the whole day on Wednesday, regional governor Oleh Synehub said. The curfew usually runs from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. in the northeastern city, which is regularly hit by Russian bombardment.

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

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

The strike at the Pivdennoukrainsk nuclear power plant (southern Ukraine) and new bombardments near the Zaporizhzhia power plant, the largest in Europe, have revived fears of a nuclear accident, Ukrainian officials said.

Zelenskiy in his speech also referred to a recent series of explosions in Crimea, the Ukrainian territory annexed by Russia in 2014.

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

“You can literally smell Crimea in the air this year, that the occupation there is only temporary and Ukraine is coming back,” Zelenskiy said.

In the latest attack in Crimea, the Russian-appointed governor, who is not recognized by the West, said a drone hit 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 Razvozhayev said on Telegram. “He was shot down just above fleet headquarters. He fell on the roof and burned. The attack failed.”

Razvozhayev said the area’s anti-aircraft system was operational again and asked residents to stop filming and broadcasting footage of its operation.

Ukrainian media reported explosions in nearby towns, including the resorts of Yevpatoriya, Olenivka and Zaozyornoye.

CHILDREN AMONG THE INJURED

Following the strike near the power plant in southern Ukraine, Vitaliy Kim, governor of the Mykolaiv region, said on Telegram that four children were among the injured.

Private homes and a five-storey building were damaged in Voznesensk, 30 km (20 miles) from the plant, the second largest in Ukraine.

Updating a toll, the authorities of the Ukrainian army’s southern district said that 14 civilians had been injured.

The attack on Voznesensk was “another act of Russian nuclear terrorism”, said state-owned Energoatom, which runs Ukraine’s four nuclear power generators.

“It is possible that this missile was specifically aimed at the Pivdennoukrainsk factory, which the Russian military tried to take over in early March,” he said in a statement.

Russia did not immediately respond to the accusation. Reuters could not verify the situation in Voznesensk. No damage was reported at the plant in southern Ukraine.

Russia and Ukraine have traded fresh bombing charges around the Zaporizhzhia station, which has been held by Russia since March.

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

Yevhen Yetushenko, mayor of Ukrainian-controlled Nikopol on the opposite bank of the Dnipro, said Russian forces shelled the town several times.

Talks on arranging a visit to the Zaporizhzhia plant by the UN nuclear agency lasted more than a week. Ukrainian authorities have urged the UN and other global bodies to force Russian forces out of the plant. Read more

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

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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