Ukraine anticipates attacks on Independence Day, after six months of war

by Tom Balmforth

KIEV, 24 ago (Reuters) – Ukrainians commemorate Wednesday the 31st anniversary of their liberation from the Soviet Union, dominated by Russia, in what will surely be a day of challenge to the country’s war.

Ukraine’s Independence Day is celebrated six months after the Russian invasion on February 24 and will be marked by discreet celebrations under the threat of land, air and sea attacks.

Public meetings are prohibited in the capital, Kyiv, and there is a curfew in the eastern city of Járkov, on the first line of fire, which has endured several months of bombing.

In the center of Kiev, the Government placed the remains of burned Russian tanks and armored vehicles as trophies of war, in a show of defiance.

The Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenski, warned last Tuesday of the possibility of “repugnant Russian provocations”.

“We are fighting against the most terrible threat to our State and also at a moment in which we have achieved the greatest level of national unity,” said Zelenski in a night speech.

The Ukrainian military urged the population to take seriously the warnings of air attacks.

“The Russian occupiers continue to carry out airstrikes and missile strikes against civilian targets in the territory of Ukraine. Do not ignore the signals of airstrikes,” the Mayor said in a statement on Wednesday.

Zelenski said on Tuesday to the representatives of some 60 States and international organizations that attended a virtual summit on Crimea that Ukraine would expel the Russian forces from the peninsula by any means necessary, without prior consultation.

The war has killed thousands of civilians, forced more than a third of the 41 million Ukrainians to abandon their homes, left cities in ruins and shaken global markets. The war is practically paralyzed and there are no immediate prospects of peace talks.

In addition to Crimea, which Russia annexed in 2014, the Russian army has extended its control to areas of the south, including the coasts of the Black Sea and the Sea of ​​Azov, and parts of the eastern region of Dombás, which includes Donetsk.

Las fuerzas armadas ukranianas have declared that almost 9,000 military have died in the war.

Russia has not made public its losses, but the United States’ intelligence services estimate the dead at 15,000 in what Moscow calls a “special military operation” to “desnazify” Ukraine. Kyiv dice que la invasión es un acto de agresión imperial no provocado.

Ukraine freed itself from the Soviet Union in August 1991 after a failed coup in Moscow and an overwhelming majority of Ukrainians voted in a referendum to declare independence.

PREOCUPACIÓN POR LA CENTRAL NUCLEAR

The head of the International Organization of Atomic Energy, Rafael Grossi, declared that the central control body of the UN hopes to be able to access the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant, occupied by Russia, in the south of Ukraine, in the next few days.

Both parties mutually accused each other of firing missiles and artillery dangerously close to the center, the mayor of Europe, which makes them fear a nuclear catastrophe.

“Continúo consultando muy activea e intensamente con todas las parts,” Grossi said in a statement on Tuesday. “The mission is expected to take place in the next few days if the ongoing negotiations are successful.”

The pro-Moscú forces took control of the plant shortly after the invasion began, but it is still being operated by Ukrainian technicians. The United Nations has asked that the zone be demilitarized.

On Tuesday, Russia accused Ukraine of attacking the plant with artillery, guided munitions and a drone, which provoked a denial of the Ukrainian ambassador to the UN, Sergi Kislitsia.

“No one who is minimally aware can imagine that Ukraine will attack a nuclear power plant with a tremendous risk of nuclear catastrophe in its own territory,” Kislitsia said in a meeting of the UN Security Council in New York.

The United States, which has sent 10,600 million dollars in aid to Ukraine’s security, will announce a new package of 3,000 million dollars as soon as Wednesday, a source said.

Al parecer, the advanced US missile systems have helped Ukraine to attack deeply behind the front lines in the last few months, eliminating ammunition depots and command posts.

In the last mysterious fire at a Russian military installation, Russian officials said that ammunition stored in the south of Russia, near the border with Ukraine, spontaneously combusted on Tuesday.

Vyacheslav Gladkov, governor of the region of Belgorod, blamed the hot climate for the fire, which provoked the mockery of Ukraine.

“Dentro de unos meses sabremos si la munición rusa puede explotar a causa del frío,” the Ukrainian Defense Minister said on Twitter.

“Las cinco causas principales de las explosiones suddentinas en Rusia son: el invierno, la primavera, el verano, el otoño y el humo”.

(Reuters reporting, writing by Grant McCool and Stephen Coates, reporting by Flora Gómez)

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