Ukraine war

Fearing a Russian invasion, Kyiv restricts Independence Day celebrations

Emergency Service workers fill up a water deposit, as Russia's attack on Ukraine continues, in Toretsk, Donetsk region, Ukraine August 22, 2022. (Photo: Reuters)

This week, the Ukrainian capital Kyiv outlawed public festivities marking the country's independence from Soviet authority, citing the heightened possibility of a Russian strike in a conflict that, according to the United Nations, has claimed the lives of almost 5,600 civilians, including many children.

Russia reportedly fired missiles into numerous cities north and west of Europe's largest nuclear power facility, which Russian soldiers captured early after they invaded Ukraine in February.

On the south bank of the Dnieper River, near the Zaporizhzhia nuclear reactor complex, artillery and rocket fire have prompted calls for the area to be demilitarized. Nearby Ukrainians expressed concern that shells could strike one of the plant's six reactors, with possibly catastrophic results.

"We are, of course, concerned... Alexander Lifirenko, a resident of the nearby town of Enerhodar, which is now under the authority of pro-Moscow forces, remarked, "It's like sitting on a powder keg."

In the days leading up to the 31st anniversary of Ukraine's independence on Wednesday, which coincides with the half-year anniversary of Russia's invasion, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has warned that Moscow could do "something particularly ugly."

Since Ukrainian troops rejected a Russian ground attempt to seize the city in March, Kyiv has been far from the front lines and targeted only sporadically by Russian missiles.

A document revealed that the Kyiv authorities had banned public anniversary celebrations from Monday through Thursday owing to the likelihood of further rocket attacks.

Other governments likewise imposed restrictions on public assemblies. In Kharkiv, a city in northeastern Ukraine that has come under frequent and lethal longer-range artillery and rocket bombardment, Mayor Ihor Terekhov has extended the overnight curfew from Tuesday to Thursday from 4 pm to 7 am.

In the port of Mykolaiv near Russian-held territory in the south, regional governor Vitaliy Kim stated that authorities planned to issue a precautionary order for residents to work from home on Tuesday and Wednesday and to avoid gathering in large groups. He also urged individuals to avoid gathering in large numbers.

In an evening address, Zelensky advocated for further punitive measures against Russia from Europe, preparing for energy shortages after Moscow halted some gas deliveries to the continent for three days in apparent retribution for European Union sanctions.

Russia refutes this claim, blaming the reductions on the sanctions and several technological issues.

"The only question is how many lives Russia will be able to take before the international community's backlash becomes tangible to those responsible," Zelensky said in a video message on Monday evening.

Fears of intensified assaults increased after Russia's Federal Security Service accused Ukrainian operatives of killing Darya Dugina, daughter of a Russian ultra-nationalist theorist, in a vehicle bomb attack near Moscow that President Vladimir Putin described. As "evil." Ukraine denies involvement.

Kyiv accuses Moscow of stationing troops and storing military equipment at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear reactor, where repeated shelling has occurred. Russia disputes this and accuses Ukraine of using drones to target Zaporizhia.

Overnight, Russian forces fired rockets into the surrounding towns of Nikopol, Krivyi Rih, and Synel'ykovskyi, according to a Telegram message from the region's governor, Valentyn Reznichenko.

Moscow has requested a Tuesday meeting of the UN Security Council to examine the Zaporizhzhia plant, according to RIA, quoting Deputy Ambassador to the UN Dmitry Polyanskiy.

In the south, there were increased fighting and explosions in Russian-occupied Kherson and the 2014-annexed Crimean peninsula.

The only bridge across the strategic Dnipro River in occupied Kherson was struck by high-precision HIMARS missiles supplied to Ukraine by the United States, injuring 15 persons, according to a source in occupied Kherson's rescue services.

The bridge, a crucial crossing for Russian military transport in the region, has been repeatedly attacked by Ukrainian forces as they launch a counteroffensive to recapture the Kherson region. A representative of the interior ministry of Kyiv reported seeing smoke billowing from the bridge.

The Russian media reported explosions in Sevastopol, Crimea. The Russian-appointed governor of the city said that an anti-air defense system had been activated nearby. In recent weeks, Crimea has been shaken by explosions, including a blast at a munitions store that Moscow attributed to saboteurs.

Reuters was unable to verify either side's combat reports independently.

Russia initiated a "special military operation" on February 24 to demilitarize its smaller neighbor and defend Russian-speaking minorities. Ukraine and its Western backers accuse Russia of conducting an imperialistic conquest war.

The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, citing its monitoring mission in Ukraine, said on Monday that between February 24 and August 21, 5,587 civilians were killed and 7,890 were injured, primarily due to artillery, rocket, and missile attacks.

According to Unicef, at least 972 children have been killed or injured during six months of violence.

"Most kid casualties have resulted from the employment of explosive weapons. Catherine Russell, the agency's executive director, stated in a statement, "These weapons do not distinguish between civilians and combatants, especially when used in populated areas, as has occurred in Ukraine."

Separately, Kyiv's army leader, General Valeriy Zaluzhnyi, presented what appeared to be the first official Ukrainian military death toll, stating that almost 9,000 men had perished in combat.

Russia has not disclosed the number of its fallen soldiers, and the Ukrainian General Staff estimates that 45,400 Russian military personnel have perished.

Reuters was unable to confirm military casualties.

Publish : 2022-08-23 07:27:00

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