As Ukraine prepares to celebrate its independence
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky last night warned Ukrainians to be vigilant next week, when the country will celebrate its independence day, after more explosions erupted in Crimea and a rocket wounded 12 civilians near a nuclear power plant, Reuters and BTA reported.
In his evening video address, Zelensky said Ukrainians must not allow Moscow to “spread despondency and fear” among them as they mark 31 years of independence from Soviet rule. “We all need to be aware that this week Russia may try to do something particularly ugly, something particularly vicious,” Zelensky said ahead of the August 24 anniversary of the six-month anniversary of the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
In his address, Zelensky also indirectly mentioned the series of explosions in recent days in Crimea, the Ukrainian territory seized and annexed by Russia during the 2014 invasion. Ukraine has not claimed responsibility for the attacks, but analysts say at least some of them were made possible by new technology used by Ukrainian forces.
“This year, you can literally feel Crimea in the air, that the occupation there is only temporary and that Ukraine is coming back,” Zelensky said.
Russia and Ukraine have also exchanged new accusations of shelling the Zaporizhia NPP area, which has been taken over by Russia since March. Vladimir Rogov, the Russian-appointed administrator in the nearby town of Energodar, said Ukrainian forces had struck the plant at least four times. Yevgeny Etushenko, mayor of Ukrainian-held Nikopol on the opposite bank of the Dnieper River, said Russian forces had repeatedly shelled the town.
For more than a week, negotiations have been underway to organize a visit to the plant by officials of the International Atomic Energy Agency at the United Nations, notes Reuters.