President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has warned Ukrainians to be vigilant next week as they prepare to celebrate their Independence Day, as more explosions hit Crimea and a missile injures 12 civilians near a nuclear plant.
In his nightly video address, Zelenskiy said on Saturday that Ukrainians must not allow Moscow to “sow discouragement and fear” among them as they mark the 31st anniversary of independence from Soviet rule.
“We should all be aware that this week Russia might try to do something particularly ugly, something particularly vicious,” Zelenskiy said ahead of the August 24 anniversary, which also marks six months since the invasion in large scale of Russia. Ukraine began.
Tensions are also mounting in Ukraine’s second-largest city, Kharkiv, where the curfew will be extended for the whole day on Wednesday, regional governor Oleh Synehub said on Saturday. The northeastern city is regularly hit by Russian shelling and normally has a 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew, but extra precautions were needed on Independence Day.
Also on Saturday, a Russian missile hit a residential area in a southern Ukrainian town not far from a nuclear power plant, injuring 12 civilians, Russian and Ukrainian officials said.
The strike at the Pivdennukrainsk nuclear power plant and renewed shelling near the Zaporizhzhia power plant, the largest such facility in Europe, have sparked new fears of a nuclear accident during the war, Ukrainian officials said.
Zelenskiy in his speech also referred indirectly a series of explosions in recent days in CrimeaUkrainian territory seized and annexed by Russia in an incursion in 2014.
Ukraine has not claimed responsibility for the attacks, but analysts said at least some were made possible by new equipment used by Ukrainian forces.
“You can literally smell Crimea in the air this year, that the occupation there is only temporary and Ukraine is coming back,” Zelenskiy said.
In the latest Crimean attack, the Russian-appointed governor – who is not recognized by Ukraine or Western governments – said a drone hit a building near the headquarters of the Russian Black Sea Fleet Saturday morning.
Video shared on Twitter appeared to show Russian air defenses attempting to destroy the drone and dark plumes of smoke rising from the city.
Mikhail Razvozhayev, governor of Sevastopol, wrote on Telegram that a drone hit the roof of the headquarters on Saturday and said there were no casualties, Russian News Agency reports. Cup.
” I’m at [Black Sea] fleet headquarters now. A drone hit the roof here 25 minutes ago. Unfortunately, he was not shot… There are no casualties,” he wrote.
Later Saturday, Crimean Governor Sergei Aksyonov contradicted the earlier statement, saying on Telegram that local air defenses shot down the drone over the Black Sea Fleet headquarters in Sevastopol.
“Air defense systems successfully hit all targets in the territory over Crimea on Saturday morning. There were no casualties or material damage,” its boss, Sergei Aksyonov, said on Telegram.
Sevastopol authorities reported on Saturday evening that the city’s air defense systems had been brought into action again in the evening.
Ukrainian media reported explosions in nearby towns – including the resorts of Yevpatoriya, Olenivka and Zaozyornoye.
After the strike near the power plant in southern Ukraine, Vitaliy Kim, governor of the Mykolaiv region, said on Telegram that four children were among the injured.
Private homes and a five-storey building were damaged in Voznesensk, 30 km from the plant, the second largest in Ukraine.
The Mykolaiv region prosecutor general’s office, updating an earlier toll, said 12 civilians were injured.
State-owned Energoatom, which runs Ukraine’s four nuclear power generators, described the Voznesensk attack as “another act of Russian nuclear terrorism”.
“It is possible that this missile was specifically aimed at the Pivdennukrainsk nuclear power plant, which the Russian military tried to take over in early March,” Energoatom said in a statement.
Russia did not immediately respond to the accusation. Reuters was unable to verify the situation in Voznesensk. No damage was reported at the plant in southern Ukraine.
Meanwhile, the Albanian Defense Ministry said on Saturday that three people with Russian and Ukrainian passports had been arrested after they attempted to break into a military base and arms factory in central Iran. Albania.
The ministry said in a statement on Saturday that two of its soldiers were injured while trying to arrest them.
“Three citizens with Russian and Ukrainian passports attempted to enter the factory,” the ministry said in a statement sent to media.
Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama said the three individuals were “suspected of spying”.