AP

Ukraine fears stepped-up attacks around national holiday

Aug 23, 2022, 5:23 AM | Updated: 10:10 pm

Florists prepare the entrance to 10 Downing Street with flowers in the Ukraine national colors in L...

Florists prepare the entrance to 10 Downing Street with flowers in the Ukraine national colors in London, Tuesday, Aug. 23, 2022 a day ahead of the Independence Day of Ukraine. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)

(AP Photo/Frank Augstein)

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — The sense of dread deepened Tuesday in Ukraine because of warnings that Russia may try to spoil the country’s Independence Day holiday and mark the war’s six-month point with intensified attacks.

The U.S. reinforced the worry with a security alert citing “information that Russia is stepping up efforts to launch strikes against Ukraine’s civilian infrastructure and government facilities in the coming days.” As it has done previously, it urged American citizens to “depart Ukraine now.” Several European countries issued similar warnings.

Kyiv authorities banned mass gatherings in the capital through Thursday for fear of missile attacks around Independence Day, which, like the six-month mark in the war, falls on Wednesday. The holiday celebrates Ukraine’s independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.

“Our country is having a very hard time, and we need to be careful,” 26-year-old Vlad Mudrak said in support of the ban.

Anxiety also mounted after the weekend car bombing 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 stirred fears of Russian retaliation.

Hundreds of people paid tribute at a memorial service Tuesday to the bombing victim, Darya Dugina, 29, the daughter of Alexander Dugin, a writer dubbed “Putin’s brain” and “Putin’s Rasputin” because of his purported 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 was returning home from a patriotic festival. Her father, a strong supporter of the invasion of Ukraine, was widely believed to be the intended target.

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

On Tuesday, however, Zelenskyy stressed defiance rather than worry when he raised the national flag at a memorial one day ahead of Independence Day.

“The blue and yellow flag of Ukraine will again fly where it rightfully should be — in all temporarily occupied cities and villages of Ukraine,” he said, including the Crimea Peninsula, which Russia annexed in 2014.

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

At a separate event, Zelenskyy appeared to downplay the threats this week, indicating that at most, he expected increased intensity rather than new targets, and he added, “No one wants to die, but no one 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 grinding war of attrition.” The war broke out on Feb. 24.

“This is a battle of wills and a battle of logistics. Therefore, we must sustain our support for Ukraine for the long term so that Ukraine prevails as a sovereign, independent nation,” Stoltenberg said at an international conference on Crimea.

One particular source of foreboding is Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, in southeastern Ukraine, where shelling has raised fears of a catastrophe.

Shelling close to the Zaporizhzhia plant continued early Tuesday. Regional Gov. Valentyn Reznichenko said Russian forces fired on Marhanets and Nikopol, two towns less than a dozen kilometers (7 miles) from the power station.

The U.N. Security Council met Tuesday to discuss the danger, and the U.N. 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. Michelle Bachelet, U.N. high commissioner for human rights, cited reports that Russia and its separatist allies in eastern Ukraine are planning to put Ukrainian POWs on trial, 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 four people were killed and nearly a dozen wounded in Ukrainian shelling of a separatist headquarters and other buildings.

In other developments, the U.S. plans to announce on Wednesday an additional $3 billion or so in aid to train and equip Ukrainian forces, according to American officials speaking on condition of anonymity. They said the money will fund contracts for drones and other weapons.

A small bright spot emerged in Ukraine: A new soccer season started 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-capacity downtown stadium with no fans allowed.

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

___

Full coverage of the war in Ukraine: https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

American Airlines put an unspecified number of employees on leave for their involvement in an incid...

Associated Press

American Airlines CEO calls removal of Black passengers from Phoenix flight ‘unacceptable’

American Airlines put an unspecified number of employees on leave for their involvement in an incident in which several Black passengers were removed from a flight in Phoenix.

2 days ago

FILE - Crystal Baziel holds the Pan-African flag Monday, June 19, 2023, during Reedy Chapel A.M.E C...

Associated Press

The beginner’s guide to celebrating Juneteenth

For more than one-and-a-half centuries, the Juneteenth holiday has been sacred to many Black communities. It marks the day in 1865 enslaved people in Galveston, Texas found out they had been freed — after the end of the Civil War, and two years after President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. Since it was designated a federal […]

4 days ago

A Boeing 737 Max suffered damage to parts of the plane's structure after it went into a “Dutch ro...

Associated Press

Plane that did ‘Dutch roll’ on flight from Phoenix suffered structural damage, investigators say

A Boeing 737 Max suffered damage to parts of the plane's structure after it went into a “Dutch roll” during a flight from Phoenix last month.

8 days ago

This photo provided by Randy Shannon shows Mooney Falls on the Havasupai reservation outside the vi...

Associated Press

Dozens report illness after trips to waterfalls near Grand Canyon

Dozens of hikers say they fell ill during trips to a popular Arizona tourist destination that features towering blue-green waterfalls deep in a gorge neighboring Grand Canyon National Park.

9 days ago

Mugshot of Rudy Giuliani, who was processed Monday, June 10, 2024, in the Arizona fake electors cas...

Associated Press

Rudy Giuliani posts $10K cash bond after being processed in Arizona fake electors case

Rudy Giuliani, a former New York City mayor and Donald Trump attorney, was processed Monday in the Arizona fake electors case.

12 days ago

FILE - White House former chief of staff Mark Meadows speaks with reporters at the White House, Wed...

Associated Press

Former Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows pleads not guilty in Arizona fake elector case

Former Donald Trump presidential chief of staff Mark Meadows and Trump 2020 Election Day operations director Michael Roman pleaded not guilty Friday in Phoenix to nine felony charges for their roles in an effort to overturn Trump's Arizona election loss to Joe Biden.

15 days ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Sanderson Ford

3 new rides for 3 new road trips in Arizona

It's time for the Sanderson Ford Memorial Day sale with the Mighty Fine 69 Anniversary, as Sanderson Ford turned 69 years old in May.

...

Collins Comfort Masters

Here’s how to be worry-free when your A/C goes out in the middle of summer

PHOENIX -- As Arizona approaches another hot summer, Phoenix residents are likely to spend more time indoors.

...

COLLINS COMFORT MASTERS

Here are 5 things Arizona residents need to know about their HVAC system

It's warming back up in the Valley, which means it's time to think about your air conditioning system's preparedness for summer.

Ukraine fears stepped-up attacks around national holiday