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Zelensky warns of ‘cruel’ Russian action to ruin Ukraine’s independence day

Annual celebrations fall on Wednesday, when Ukrainians also mark six months since Russia invaded their country; president says Moscow may try something ‘particularly disgusting’

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky attends joint press conference in Lviv, Ukraine, on Aug, 18, 2022. (Evgeniy Maloletka/AP)
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky attends joint press conference in Lviv, Ukraine, on Aug, 18, 2022. (Evgeniy Maloletka/AP)

KYIV, Ukraine — Russia could do something particularly “cruel” during the upcoming week as Ukraine marks 31 years of independence, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has warned.

“Russia could try to do something particularly disgusting, particularly cruel,” Zelensky said in his nightly address late Saturday.

“One of the key objectives of the enemy is to humiliate us” and “to sow despondency, fear and conflict,” but “we have to be strong enough to resist all provocation” and “make the occupiers pay for their terror,” he said.

Ukraine’s Independence Day on Wednesday, August 24, will also mark six months since Russia invaded the former Soviet republic.

There has been speculation that Russia will put Ukrainian fighters captured during the siege of Mariupol on trial to coincide with the independence anniversary.

In the northeastern city of Kharkiv, the governor announced a curfew from the evening of August 23 to the morning of August 25.

“We will not allow any provocation by the enemy. Be as vigilant as possible during our independence holiday,” Oleg Synegubov wrote on Telegram.

Ukrainian firefighters work in destroyed buildings after a rocket attack the night before in Kharkiv, Ukraine, Aug.19, 2022. (Andrii Marienko/AP)

Kharkiv has been under regular Russian bombardment for weeks and on Sunday emergency services said two more civilians were killed in overnight strikes.

Four civilians were reported killed by Russian fire in Donetsk, said the region’s pro-Kyiv governor, Pavlo Kyrylenko.

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