Ukraine fears stepped-up attacks around national holiday

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KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Feelings of fear mounted in Ukraine on Tuesday over warnings that Russia could try to spoil the country’s Independence Day and mark the six-month point of the war with intensified attacks.

The US heightened the concerns with a security warning citing “information that Russia will step up its efforts in the coming days to carry out attacks on Ukraine’s civilian infrastructure and government facilities.” As it has done before, it urged US citizens to “leave Ukraine now”. Several European countries have issued similar warnings.

Kiev authorities have banned mass gatherings in the capital until Thursday amid fears of rocket attacks around Independence Day, which, like the six-month war, falls on Wednesday. The holiday celebrates Ukraine’s independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.

“Our country is going through a very difficult time and we have to be careful,” 26-year-old Vlad Mudrak said in support of the ban.

Concerns also increased after the weekend car bomb attack outside Moscow that killed the daughter of a leading right-wing Russian political theorist. Russia accused Ukraine of carrying out the attack. While Ukraine denied involvement, the bloodshed fueled fears of Russian retaliation.

Hundreds of people paid tribute to the bombing victim, Darya Dugina, 29, the daughter of Alexander Dugin, a writer called “Putin’s brain” and “Putin’s Rasputin” at a memorial service on Tuesday for his alleged influence on Russian President Vladimir Putin. .

Dugina, a pro-Kremlin TV commentator, died when the SUV she was driving blew up Saturday night as she returned home from a patriotic festival. Her father, a strong supporter of the invasion of Ukraine, was widely regarded as the intended target.

Over the weekend, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy warned that Russia “may be trying to do something particularly mean, something particularly cruel” this week.

On Tuesday, however, Zelenskyy emphasized defiance rather than worry when he raised the national flag at a memorial the day before Independence Day.

“Ukraine’s blue-and-yellow flag will fly again where it should be — in all of Ukraine’s temporarily occupied towns and villages,” he said, including the Crimean peninsula, which Russia annexed in 2014.

He added: “It is necessary to liberate Crimea from the occupation. It will end where it started.”

At another event, Zelenskyy appeared to be downplaying the threats this week, suggesting he expected increased intensity rather than new targets at most, adding: “Nobody wants to die, but nobody is afraid of Russia, and this is the most important signal.”

NATO, meanwhile, said Zelenskyy can continue to count on the 30-nation alliance for help in defending itself in what Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg called “a scouring war of attrition.” The war broke out on February 24.

“This is a battle of will and a battle of logistics. That is why we must maintain our long-term support for Ukraine so that Ukraine gains the upper hand as a sovereign, independent nation,” Stoltenberg said at an international conference on Crimea.

A particular source of disaster is Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, in southeastern Ukraine, where shelling has heightened fears of catastrophe.

The shelling near the factory in Zaporizhzhya continued on Tuesday. Regional Governor Valentyn Reznichenko said Russian troops fired on Marhanets and Nikopol, two towns less than twelve kilometers from the power station.

The UN Security Council met on Tuesday to discuss the danger, and the UN nuclear agency renewed its request to assess safety and security at the plant if Ukraine and Russia agree.

Another source of concern is the fate of Ukrainian prisoners of war. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet quoted reports that Russia and its separatist allies in eastern Ukraine plan to try Ukrainian prisoners of war, possibly in the coming days. The Kremlin has denounced Ukrainian prisoners as Nazis, war criminals and terrorists, and several prisoners have been sentenced to death.

In the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk, Russian authorities reported that four people were killed and nearly a dozen injured in Ukrainian shelling of a separatist headquarters and other buildings.

In other developments, the US plans to announce an additional amount of about $3 billion on Wednesday for training and equipping Ukrainian troops, according to US officials speaking on condition of anonymity. They said the money will fund contracts for drones and other weapons.

A small bright spot arose in Ukraine: a new football season began Tuesday in Kyiv. Shakhtar Donetsk and Metalist 1925 from Kharkiv — teams from eastern cities fighting for their existence — played to a 0-0 draw in a 65,000-seat stadium downtown with no fans allowed.

“This is work… to show the world that life in Ukraine does not stop, but continues,” said Shakhtar coach Igor Jovicevic.

____

Full coverage of the war in Ukraine:

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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