Defiant Zelenskiy pledges powerful response to Russia on eve of war’s six-month milestone

Date:

  • US urges citizens to leave Ukraine ‘now’
  • Heightened fear of attack on Kiev around Independence Day
  • Wednesday marks six months since Russian invasion
  • Zelenskiy promises powerful response to every attack

KYIV, Aug. 23 (Reuters) – As Ukraine prepared to mark both its independence from the Soviet regime in 1991 and the six months since Russian forces invaded, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy promised that any Russian attack on or around that date would be a forceful one. would provoke a response.

Zelenskiy, who has led his country’s resistance since Russian troops poured across the border on Feb. 24, also said Ukraine’s rule over the Crimean region — which was annexed by Russia in 2014 as a harbinger of this year’s invasion , will recover.

Despite his resistance, there was concern among Ukrainian and allied Western officials that Russia was preparing to attack the capital Kiev again.

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The United States urged its citizens to leave Ukraine, believing Russia would attack civilian and government infrastructure in the coming days. US citizens should leave Ukraine “now” on their own if it was safe to do so, the US embassy said.

On the battlefields outside Kiev, Russian forces carried out artillery and air strikes in the Zaporizhzhya region of southeastern Ukraine, where fighting has taken place near Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, the Ukrainian army said.

Meanwhile, leaders of dozens of countries and international organizations joined the so-called Crimean platform — most via video — in solidarity with Ukraine on the six-month anniversary of the invasion.

Zelenskiy opened the forum and, dressed in his usual military outfit, told the delegates: “To overcome terror, it is necessary to achieve victory in the fight against Russian aggression.”

“It is necessary to liberate Crimea. This will be the resuscitation of world law and order,” he said.

Italy’s acting Prime Minister Mario Draghi said at the summit that Rome would continue to support Ukraine. “We are with you in your fight to resist the Russian invasion, restore Ukraine’s territorial integrity and protect your democracy and independence,” he said.

Earlier, Zelenskiy had warned that Moscow could try “something particularly ugly” ahead of Wednesday’s Independence Day. Asked at a press conference with visiting Polish President Andrzej Duda about the possibility of a Russian missile attack on Kiev, Zelenskiy said there was a daily threat of attacks, although the number could increase.

Ukraine’s response would be the same for any city attacked by Russia.

“They’re going to get a response, a strong response,” Zelenskiy said. “I want to say that every day this response will grow, get stronger and stronger.”

Fears of intensified Russian attacks followed the murder of Darya Dugina, the daughter of a prominent Russian ultranationalist, in a car bomb attack near Moscow on Saturday. Moscow accused the murder of Ukrainian agents, a charge Kiev denies.

Kiev has rarely been hit by Russian missiles since Ukraine repulsed a ground offensive to take the capital in March.

The mood in the city was calm on Tuesday, with many people still wandering the streets, but signs of the heightened threat were felt.

Authorities have told Ukrainians to work from home from Tuesday to Thursday whenever possible, urging people to take airstrike warnings seriously and seek shelter when the sirens go off.

Kiev’s city government banned large public gatherings until Thursday, fearing a crowd of cheering residents could become the target of a Russian missile attack.

NUCLEAR POWDER KEG

Six months after the Russian invasion, which killed thousands, displaced millions and destroyed entire cities, the conflict is stuck in a stalemate.

Russian forces control much of the south, including along the Black Sea and Sea of ​​Azov coasts, and parts of the eastern Donbas region. The prospects for peace seem almost non-existent.

Russian shelling hit eastern Kharkov, Ukraine’s second-largest city, around dawn on Tuesday, regional governor Oleh Synehubov said. A house was hit, but no one was injured, he said.

In the south, Ukraine said Russia fired artillery and launched airstrikes in several towns in the Zaporizhzhya region, where Russian forces captured the nuclear power plant shortly after the invasion began.

Artillery and rocket fire near the Zaporizhzhya nuclear reactor complex, on the south bank of the Dnipro River, has sparked calls for the area to be demilitarized. The two sides have blamed each other for frequent shelling of the factory.

In another action, Ukrainian troops fired on Tuesday a building housing the local government headquarters in the center of the separatist-controlled city of Donetsk, the TASS news agency reported, citing Russian-installed officials. Three people were killed, it said.

The Russian Defense Ministry said its forces had shot down a Ukrainian SU-27 fighter jet over the Kharkov region.

Russia sent its troops across the border in what it calls a “special military operation,” saying it wanted to demilitarize its neighbor and protect Russian-speaking communities. Ukraine and its western allies accuse Moscow of waging an unjustified war of aggression.

The United Nations said Monday that between February 24 and August 21, 5,587 civilians had been killed and 7,890 injured, mainly from artillery, rocket and missile strikes. The UNICEF children’s organization said at least 972 children were killed or injured in a six-month war.

Separately, the chief of the Ukrainian armed forces, General Valeriy Zaluzhnyi, gave what appeared to be the first public Ukrainian military death toll, saying nearly 9,000 soldiers had died in action.

Russia has not said how many of its soldiers have been killed. The Ukrainian General Staff estimates the death toll of the Russian army at 45,400.

Reuters has been unable to verify military losses.

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Reporting by Ron Popeski and Natalia Zinets; Written by Stephen Coates and Angus MacSwan; Editing by William Maclean

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

The Valley Voice
The Valley Voicehttp://thevalleyvoice.org
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.

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