Zelenskiy warns Russia of strong reaction to Independence Day attacks | Ukraine
Volodymyr Zelenskiy has warned that any attack by Russia on the country’s Independence Day will be met with a powerful response as Ukraine prepares to mark 31 years since the end of Soviet rule.
The Ukrainian president’s provocative message followed warnings from Western and Ukrainian officials that Russia was preparing to attack the capital, Kyiv again, on the date which also marks six months since the February 24 invasion. The United States on Tuesday urged all of its citizens to leave the country, saying it believed Russia would target civilian and government infrastructure in the coming days.
Kyiv authorities banned mass gatherings in the capital to mark Ukraine’s independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. Instead of the traditional parade down Kyiv’s main street, authorities lined the road with Russian military equipment captured and destroyed.
The car bombing of the daughter of a prominent ultra-nationalist Russian ideologue at the weekend, which Russia has blamed on Ukraine, has also added to fears of reprisals. Darya Dugina’s funeral was held in Moscow on Tuesday, at which her father, Alexander Dugin, said only victory in Ukraine could justify the price she paid.
Zelenskiy said he had information from Ukrainian intelligence and international partners that there was an increased threat, but stressed that the threat from Russia had remained daily and constant since February 24.
He told a press conference in Kyiv that Ukraine would not accept any proposal to freeze the current frontlines in order to “calm down” Moscow, which now controls around 22% of Ukraine, including the Crimea.
The US will announce a new security aid package for Ukraine worth around $3bn (£2.5bn) on Wednesday, officials said, to coincide with the day of the independence of Ukraine and to equip the country for a war of attrition fought mainly in eastern and southern Ukraine. .
“If the world shows fatigue with the war in Ukraine, it will be a great threat to the whole world,” Zelenskiy told an online Crimea conference attended by representatives from 60 states.
He also promised to return Crimea to Ukraine, saying it would be part of the EU, along with the rest of the country. “It all started with Crimea and it will end with Crimea,” Zelenskiy said.
Outgoing British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who spoke via video link at the conference, said Britain would never recognize Russia’s annexation of Crimea or any other part of Ukrainian territory.
“In the face of Putin’s onslaught, we must continue to give our Ukrainian friends all the military, humanitarian, economic and diplomatic support they need until Russia ends this horrible war and withdraws its forces from all of Ukraine,” Johnson said.
Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan also spoke at the conference, saying Crimea should be returned to Ukraine. Erdoğan, who helped broker the recent grain deal, has maintained ties with Zelenskiy and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Crimea has become the center of attention over the past two weeks after a series of explosions at Russian military bases on the peninsula. Ukraine has not claimed responsibility for the attacks. But Ukraine’s Defense Ministry has taken pains to give the impression that Ukraine was involved, posting a video on Twitter warning Russians not to travel to Crimea ‘unless they want a vacation. unpleasantly hot summers”.
Several outlets, including one from CNN, claim to have confirmed that Ukraine was responsible, citing unnamed Ukrainian officials.
On the eve of Ukraine’s independence day, sounds of explosions were reported in Sevastopol, south of Crimea. Russian occupation authorities in the city reported that air defense systems shot down a Ukrainian drone over the sea.
Meanwhile, Dnipro Mayor Borys Filatov said Russia launched a rocket at the central Ukrainian city on Tuesday morning. “Please stay in the [bomb] shelters,” Filatov wrote on his Telegram channel. He later wrote that the rocket landed on private homes and there were no military targets nearby.
Ukraine’s Defense Ministry has advised Ukrainians to be especially careful on Independence Day, citing the threat of missile attacks and “provocations” from Russia.
“Russia and Putin’s regime attacked Ukrainian independence and independent Ukraine. They are really obsessed with dates and symbols, so it would make sense to be on the lookout and be prepared for Independence Day to be attacked,” said Andriy Yusov, CEO of the intelligence from the ministry, on Ukrainian state television.
Kyiv is far from the front lines and has rarely been hit by Russian missiles since Ukraine repelled a ground offensive to seize the capital in March, but some restaurants in Kyiv closed earlier this week due to perceived increased threat.
The head of the Ukrainian Security and Defense Council, Oleksiy Danilov, said he expected Russian security services to stage a series of terrorist attacks in Russian cities resulting in civilian casualties, in the purpose of rekindling national support for the war. Danilov said he believed Dugina’s murder was the first such attack.
After the attack, which Russian security services blamed on Ukraine, a host of pro-Putin figures called for revenge. Ukraine denies any responsibility.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has sworn “no mercy” for the killers.
A spokesperson for the UN human rights office expressed concern over Russian attempts to try Ukrainian prisoners of war in the coming days, saying the process could constitute a war crime.
“We are very concerned about how this is being done. There are pictures in the media of cages being built in the Mariupol Philharmonic Hall, really massive cages and apparently the idea is to hold the prisoners,” Ravina Shamdasani told a UN briefing. . “It’s not acceptable, it’s humiliating.” Deliberately depriving a prisoner of war of the right to a fair trial amounts to a war crime on the part of Russia, she added.
Zelenskiy said if Russia tried the prisoners it would eliminate the possibility of talks with Moscow. Ukrainian human rights ombudsman Dmytro Lubinets called on the UN and the International Committee of the Red Cross to intervene and prevent the trial.