Ukraine says Russian channels are worse than missiles six months after invasion

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  • Defiant Zelenskiy, warns of Russia’s ‘brutal strikes’
  • August 24 holiday marks six months since invasion
  • UN nuclear agency could visit Ukrainian plant within days

KYIV, Aug 24 (Reuters) – Ukraine was “reborn” when Russia invaded it six months ago, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Wednesday, marking 31 years of independence from Ukraine. -vis the Moscow-controlled Soviet Union with a vow to oust Russian forces altogether. .

After days of warnings that Moscow could use Ukraine’s Independence Day anniversary to launch more missile attacks on major cities, the second-largest city of Kharkiv was under curfew after months of bombardment.

The anniversary fell exactly six months after Russia sent tens of thousands of troops to Ukraine.

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In a moving speech to his compatriots, Zelenskiy said the attack had revived the spirit of the nation.

“A new nation appeared in the world at 4 a.m. on February 24. It was not born, but reborn. A nation that did not cry, scream or fear. One that did not flee. Didn’t give up. And didn’t forget,” he said.

The 44-year-old leader, speaking in front of Kyiv’s central independence monument in his combat uniform, vowed to take back the occupied areas of eastern Ukraine as well as the Crimean peninsula, which Russia annexed in 2014.

“We are not going to sit at the negotiating table out of fear, with a gun to the head. For us, the most terrible iron is not missiles, planes and tanks, but chains. Not the trenches, but the shackles,” he said.

He and his wife then attended a service in Kyiv’s Saint Sophia Cathedral with religious leaders from all major Ukrainian denominations.

Russia has made little progress in Ukraine in recent months after its troops were pushed back from Kyiv in the first weeks of the war. Ukrainian soldiers on the front line in the east say they are more motivated than their enemy.

“All our people are cheering us on. The whole country is, and other countries are helping us too. Our fighting spirit is greater than theirs,” a soldier named Yevhen told Reuters, declining to give his opinion. Last name.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu told a meeting of defense ministers in Uzbekistan that Russia had deliberately slowed down what it calls its “special military operation” in Ukraine to avoid civilian casualties. Read more

WARNINGS

On Tuesday evening, Zelenskiy warned of the possibility of “repugnant Russian provocations” and on Wednesday, the Ukrainian military urged the population to take air raid warnings seriously, reporting further air and missile attacks on civilian buildings. .

Zelenskiy told representatives of about 60 countries and international organizations attending a virtual summit on Crimea on Tuesday that Ukraine would drive Russian forces out of the peninsula by any means necessary. Read more

The war has killed thousands of civilians, forced more than a third of Ukraine’s 41 million people from their homes, left cities in ruins and shaken the global economy. It has largely stalled, with no immediate prospect of peace talks.

Besides Crimea, Russian forces have seized areas in the south, including the Black Sea and Sea of ​​Azov coasts, as well as parts of the eastern Donbass region including the provinces of Lugansk and Donetsk.

Nearly 9,000 Ukrainian servicemen have been killed in the war, its army said this week.

Russia has not made its losses public, but US intelligence estimates the death toll at 15,000 in what Moscow describes as an operation necessitated by threats to its security. Kyiv says the invasion is an act of unprovoked imperial aggression.

In the latest assassination of an official installed by Moscow in areas under its control, the head of the town of Mykhailivka in the Russian-controlled part of the Zaporizhzhia region was killed by a car bomb. On August 6, the deputy head of a town in the neighboring Kherson region was shot dead in his home.

In Russia, authorities have imposed five-year prison terms on anyone who calls their actions in Ukraine an invasion.

Opposition politician Yevgeny Roizman was shown being detained at his home in a video posted to social media on Wednesday, telling reporters he was being arrested “basically for one phrase, ‘invading Ukraine'”.

Ukraine declared independence from the Soviet Union in August 1991 after a failed coup by communist extremists in Moscow, and its people voted overwhelmingly for independence in a referendum in December.

THE HOPES OF NUCLEAR POWER PLANTS

Both sides accused the other of firing missiles and artillery at the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine, the largest in Europe, raising fears of a nuclear catastrophe.

The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Rafael Grossi, said the UN nuclear watchdog hoped to have access within days if negotiations were successful. The United Nations has called for the demilitarization of the area. Read more

Ukraine’s allies offered more military support, with Norway announcing it and Britain would provide micro-drones to help with reconnaissance and target identification and the US was to announce a new approximately $3 billion security program. Read more

Advanced US missile systems appear to have helped Ukraine strike deep behind the front lines in recent months, destroying munitions dumps and command posts.

In the latest mysterious fire at a Russian military installation, Russian officials said munitions stored in the south near the border with Ukraine burned spontaneously on Tuesday.

Vyacheslav Gladkov, the governor of the Belgorod region, blamed hot weather for the blaze, ridiculing Ukraine’s Defense Ministry on Twitter.

“The top five causes of sudden explosions in Russia are: winter, spring, summer, autumn and smoking,” he said.

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Additional reporting by Pavel Polityuk, Max Hunder, Olzhas Auyezov and Reuters bureaus; written by Stephen Coates and Philippa Fletcher; Editing by Gareth Jones and Jon Boyle

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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